Women earn 12% lower salaries than men in project management


The new survey also finds women hold leadership roles in project management about as often as men do.

Team discussing and planning projects on a computer.

While women thrive in leadership roles in the project management field, a new survey from the Project Management Institute shows that higher salaries, management roles and certifications are still more common for men than for women. Overall, the majority of employees in the field are men, and male project managers outnumber female project managers three to one, the report found.

PMI surveyed 8,313 people — 1,927 of whom identified as female — for its annual global survey.

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The gender pay gap in project management

In the U.S., women in project management earn 12% less than men, with a median salary of $106,000 compared to $120,000. The pay gap varies between countries, but in every case, women earned less than men, according to PMI’s report.

PMI found 88% of project professionals say having diverse project teams (including diversity of gender, race, sexual orientation and culture) increases project value.

SEE: It pays to work on diversity in the workplace.

Women in project management are less likely to have a certification or degree in the field than men, the survey showed. This is important because people with certifications earn on average 16% more, the survey found.

“Many women simply don’t have the resources or community they need to reach the opportunities they’re deserving of,” said Asya Watkins, CEO and founder of Women of Project Management, which focuses on creating more opportunities for women and women of color in particular, in the profession. “Their needs and voices aren’t being heard, or sometimes, they have no idea where they should even start.”

SEE: For women of color in tech, the pipeline may not be the problem.

Women successful in project management leadership

Women achieve management roles at about the same rate as men, according to the PMI survey, at 20% of surveyed women compared to 23% of surveyed men. Titles considered management roles for the purposes of the survey were PMO director, portfolio manager, product manager, functional manager and development manager.

The overall number of female project managers is lower because of the gender gap throughout the profession as a whole. PMI sees this as a success for programs designed to give women opportunities to gain roles with higher salaries and more opportunities to participate in organizations on a strategic level.

Different approaches to project management

PMI’s survey found a slight gender gap in how respondents use technology and what approach they have been trained on. Women are more likely to use hybrid (5.4%) or Agile (3.6%) approaches, while men are more likely to use waterfall or more traditional approaches, the survey found.

Accordingly, women and men are more likely to work for organizations that follow those project management approaches. Women are 10% more likely than men to work at organizations that use hybrid approaches, 7.3% more likely to work in organizations with Agile approaches and less likely (-7.4%) to work in organizations with traditional or waterfall approaches.

Closing the gender gap

“This opportunity to move into leadership is a selling point hiring managers should emphasize when seeking to recruit more women into project management roles,” WPI stated.

Recruiting more women might involve looking outside of the field, PMI said. Since fewer women have degrees in project management, organizations may need to hire from roles with overlapping skills and provide on-the-job training.

Organizations should also examine their employment and salary practices to achieve equality, PMI said. Internal diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives can be helpful in recruiting and retaining more women. Leadership training can also make a difference.

“These development opportunities, along with favorable metrics demonstrating female leadership in the organization, can be valuable recruiting tools,” the PMI wrote.


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