The XY Factor in HTML – How digital project management is sexier

This is Lee Carnihan’s guest post.
After more than ten decades of working in digital, I have met a dozen female project managers, but only two female web developers. Yes, two. Yes, two. I can still recall their names. Tanya and Laura. Anecdotal evidence seems to support the sad statistic that women in tech jobs are on the decline. What’s the problem? Why is it so difficult to be a woman in tech?
It is a difficult job to be a digital project manager. You must be organized and have a plan, but you also need to be flexible and able to think on your feet if things don’t go according to plan. You must be able to manage risk and still have the courage to move forward when you don’t or can’t. Communicating in multiple languages to people with different perspectives is the most difficult task.
Are men better at tackling this kind of challenge, and therefore more likely to be drawn to it, or are women less able and thus more inclined to resist? My experience has not shown me women performing consistently worse than men or vice versa. I won’t lie to you. I haven’t been looking for a difference. I’m too busy being a project manager. I was able to hear from a former digital executive working for a global IT company her personal experiences and thoughts about being a female tech professional.
“Overall, one can say that women have to prove their competences, while men just need to show-up – dominant ideology. This phenomenon is more prevalent in certain professions than in others, which are more socially ‘female’ such as teaching or nursing.
It is disappointing to hear that women still need to prove themselves. Statistically, although women are slowly moving into more senior business positions, those gains are decreasing for IT and technical roles. Do they have a negative perception of what they might be perceived? This could be impacting their decision to enter the IT and digital professions. Or could it be that they are being told horror stories about how hard it might take to reach the same status as men, which could be making them resentful?
It is possible, the only way to answer that question is “yes”. A woman who has a harder time getting the same opportunities and promotions, as well as recognition and salary, is obviously going to be an unfair and unnecessary barrier. Even though some women, like Anne-Marie Imafidon in the UK, are resisting the trend, she says, “It’s not that girls can’t do this, it’s that they are choosing to not.”
Sky Digital Project Manager Liz DowlingSo, do these same observations and experiences apply to digital project managers specifically. Sky’s digital project manager Liz Dowling shares her insights: “I don’t see any difference between a male and female project manager. It doesn’t matter what sex, the key is to have the right ingredients. It’s important that a woman can work with a difficult partner, regardless of sex.
The key to being a good project manager is not gender, but your level of conflict resolution skills. This supports Anne-Marie’s suggestion, that women can overcome existing barriers if it is their choice. It’s possible, according to Padmasree Warrior (Cisco’s Chief Technology Officer). Although it is daunting to have so many female colleagues in an industry that is traditionally male-dominated, it is possible.