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Performance Effectiveness of Women   in Project ManagementSandeep Khurana – Founder and Principal Consultant, QuantLeap Co...
Contents 1. Abstract ........................................................................................................
1. AbstractAs managers, women in a project team are incomparable, irreplaceable assets. The paper discussesperformance of ...
social quotients now diffuse among other factors like virtual project teams, to crank out a new recipefor effective leader...
maturity. Amongst other factors, influence of social conditioning weans out as awareness of womengrows.For women, professi...
4. Environmental Attributes4.1 Team structureMore than attitudinal biases against women, it is argued that successful wome...
4.5 Mars and Venus: impact of gender bias and social conditioning In addition, despite the best of intentions by all conce...
available to guide them on workplaces that are and are not conducive to success as PMs. This isbringing about changes in p...
Twenge, J. M. (Jul 2001). Changes in womens assertiveness in response to status and roles: Across-temporal meta-analysis, ...
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EMDT_6

  1. 1. 1 Page
  2. 2. Performance Effectiveness of Women in Project ManagementSandeep Khurana – Founder and Principal Consultant, QuantLeap Consulting
  3. 3. Contents 1. Abstract .......................................................................................................................................... 4 2. Introduction ................................................................................................................................... 4 3. Personal attributes ........................................................................................................................ 4 3.1 Educational and experiential preparedness ................................................................................ 5 3.2 Personality type ........................................................................................................................... 5 3.3 Correlation with relationships ...................................................................................................... 5 3.4 Role models and mentoring ........................................................................................................ 6 4. Environmental Attributes ........................................................................................................... 7 4.1 Team structure ............................................................................................................................ 7 4.2 Socio-cultural influences: Culture, Country, Context matters ..................................................... 7 4.3 Sectoral influence ........................................................................................................................ 7 4.4 HR policies .................................................................................................................................. 7 4.5 Mars and Venus: impact of gender bias and social conditioning ................................................ 8 5. Performance effectiveness measurement ................................................................................. 8 6. Conclusion ..................................................................................................................................... 8 7. References .................................................................................................................................... 9 8. Author’s Profile: .......................................................................................................................... 103 Page
  4. 4. 1. AbstractAs managers, women in a project team are incomparable, irreplaceable assets. The paper discussesperformance of women in Project management, by studying projects employing women professionalsin management roles, classifying and studying personal and environmental factors specific to womenin a project, to then understand and research their influence on outcome variables of the project.Personal attributes shape management style of a Project Manager (PM). Not all women are cut out bytemperament, willingness and preparedness to be PMs, as holds true for any other demographicgroup. Amongst others, a few qualities carry special importance for women, to be successful PM. Thestudy highlights educational and experiential preparedness, personality type, relationships as some ofthe key factors.Environmental dimension encompasses team structure, socio-cultural influences, human resourcepolicies and perceptive stereotypes. Variations within these at work, have an impact on successprobabilities of women as PM.A subjective comparison is made on relative differences in approaches of women and men in PM.The article concludes with suggested applications of insights obtained in PM.2. IntroductionIt is an oft-heard remark in inaugural sessions on training budding Project Managers. “Dalai Lama canalso successfully manage an aircraft manufacturing project or a Mother Teresa can be an efficientmanager of construction project.” Message intended and implied through such statements is thatsuccessful Project Management requires adherence to principles of Project Management and not asmuch of domain skills or specialist knowledge. Extending the premise, gender should also beinconsequential and such skills as are necessary for an effective PM should be equally available inmen and women to then correlate success to professional factors only. Or is it not so? Are therepersonal and project environmental factors that individually or in conjunction, influence effectivenessof women PMs? We explore.There is no getting away from gender diversity amongst other forms of diversity in any project and theever-growing numbers of women at all levels, mean a higher need to be prepared to provide andnurture women for management roles. Studying women PMs’ performance has important lessons toplan for future of project management do a reality check and foster such spirit of respectable work-place co-existence. While participation levels of women in Project Management is itself in transition,and an area of research with its own attendant reasons and solutions, we stay focused in this studyon performance effectiveness of women PMs only.3. Personal attributesAlpha woman, Strict Mother, Hands-off, Cool cucumber, Boss’s proxy, Laissez faire- name a style andyou would still fall short in describing all possible personal styles of women project managers. Name asituation and you can find a new style that works best for it. Possibly men had a defined range ofshades or possibly projects were less complex earlier, but in recent times the intelligence, emotional,4 Page
  5. 5. social quotients now diffuse among other factors like virtual project teams, to crank out a new recipefor effective leadership styles. A caveat though- in any study, the subjects would deviate to eitherextremes from the mean or most common behavior. It is quite likely that there are exceptions to anyrule but majority behavior, if it stands out, is worthy of study to understand.3.1 Educational and experiential preparednessWhile education and experience are critical to success of any PM, for women PMs, some relatedfactors need highlighting.Knowledge-intensive projects are more receptive of diversity, and rather welcome it. Higher educationthus contributes to higher success probability from both directions. By preparing women to excelthrough use of such knowledge and acquired confidence, but equally importantly, shapingunprejudiced and merit-based acceptability by peers in such environments. (Carayannis, Kaloudis, &Mariussen, 2008)Across developed economies, studies done already demonstrate that successful women PMs need tohave greater work-life balance. This asks for multi-tasking abilities, flexibility in thinking and action,and innovative zeal to adopt to new structures and paradigms (Rapoport & Bailyn, 2002) .3.2 Personality typeSelf-monitoring behavior (A Mehra, 2001), or the way an individual shapes and moderates ownbehavior to social cues has been correlated to success through intermediate behavioral patterns.High self-monitors occupy central positions in social networks, spend greater time in a role andorganization and both these factors feed each other for success. Women with such high self-monitoring behavior, would demonstrate effective social skills, eg in networking, communications andemotional empathy. In projects that are of high resource diversity, density and duration, high self-monitors stand to an advantage. Indicators of such success would thus be presence of such womenin key organizational positions in a project before taking on PM mantle. The concern though is lownumbers of women with high self-monitoring behavior due to social conditioning to submissiveness,especially in cultural contexts of India.Classified as multiple social effectiveness (Semadar, 2006), the personality trait lays greateremphasis on political skills, emotional intelligence and leadership self-efficacy. With womendemonstrating higher social and emotional quotient, the difficult part is to acquire practical politicalacumen to be successful.Assertiveness (Twenge, Jul 2001) in women varies with status and role. Social consciousness ofupliftment of status of women shapes such assertive behavior from an early age and personalitydevelopment, thus, is often deep-rooted in successful women PMs.3.3 Correlation with relationshipsLuise Eichenbaum and Susie Orbach (1987), propose that women search for self through connectionwith others while men have a ―competition gene‖ and develop by dominance or distinguishingthemselves from peers. Women, as is intrinsic nature to them, and especially those who have hadsignificant life-experiences, gain in maturity in dealing with organizational, project and inter-personalissues. Likewise, exposure in multiple roles within and outside the project, shape their professional5 Page
  6. 6. maturity. Amongst other factors, influence of social conditioning weans out as awareness of womengrows.For women, professional relationships with other women can be synergistic or of rivalry. (Tanenbaum,2003) Popular text outlines learning from experience, emulating successful male examples andchallenging outclassed personal thinking styles, to change instinctive behavior from toxic rivalry tohealthy rivalry in such professional scenarios. (M. Hornyak,2003) Male mentor- Female mentee success paradigm3.4 Role models and mentoringA close family member in managerial position of Oedipus complex orresponsibility helps a woman understand and feel confident dominance-submission natureabout her performance. Parsonian hypothesis of dual- of relationship, or sheercareer marriages(both spouses from same profession) evolutionary reasons- there isadversely effecting career of women is no longer supported a natural chemistry between a(MARTIN & KENNETH, 1975) by new-age professional male mentor and femalecouples that are increasing in numbers. Instead women in mentee. When it works, withprofessional careers tend to learn from their life-partners high levels of trust and mutualand so called spouse rivalry is not borne by recent studies. respect, it is indeed a winner.More than within family, impact is higher if professional role Men with daughters at home ormodels and mentors exist at workplace. One-to-one men with personal convictionmentorship has very high degree of success for women to make women menteesPMs. In fact, a mentor-mentee relationship between male- succeed, women with mothersfemale is found even more strongly correlated with 33 of 34 who shape their thinkingfemale CEOs of Fortune 500 companies’ surveyed in a progressively- have positivestudy when asked to identify most significant person to correlations to their successinfluence careers identified a male mentor. (Jones, 2009) (Jones, 2009)Rarity of female role models, by itself, can negatively "The number of maleinfluence their conduct and perceptions of others on how champions increases dailyfemale managers must act in an organization, which as talented womenundermines their confidence, causes distress andexacerbates the constant need to prove themselves. Rarity reward them for thiscan also lead to the adoption of agentic behaviors, which investment," Karen Watts,may be thought to be necessary to be on a more equal CEO of Corefinolevel with males, but can lead to a severe backlash.Coaching, mentoring, and networking programs have proved quite successful in helping femaleexecutives gain confidence to succeed—for instance, by encouraging them to seek out new positionsmore aggressively. Internal research at HP showed that women apply for open jobs only if they thinkthey meet 100 percent of the criteria listed, whereas men respond to the posting if they feel they meet60 percent of the requirements.6 Page
  7. 7. 4. Environmental Attributes4.1 Team structureMore than attitudinal biases against women, it is argued that successful women PMs owe it toproportional representation of a social group, eg women, in team structure by way of their presence inpositions of opportunity and power (Kanter, 1976). In hierarchical structures the disadvantage to awoman PM, due to absence of women in positions/roles of opportunities and power is similar to thatfaced by males if deprived such positions/roles. So it is not leadership qualities of such women butthe attitudes shaped by structures and diversity policies of the project.4.2 Socio-cultural influences: Culture, Country, Context mattersThere are strong cultural differences between developed Westerncountries and Indian cultural context. Individualistic and collectivist Changing stereotypesbehaviors (Triandis, McCusker, & Hui, 1990) play key role inprofessional success. Asian countries and cultures place greater A healthy sign is theimportance on community’s influence on and stake in decisions. growing acceptability of aWestern cultures are more individualistic. As a Project Manager, in female boss. Gallup poll incollectivist cultures, a woman has to acquire and demonstrate US in 1953 had only 5%greater social behavioral skills, due to expectations of other polled respondentsstakeholders. choosing a lady as a boss as against 66% rooting for4.3 Sectoral influence a male boss, with 25%In fast-growing sectors entry barriers for acceptability of women in indicating no preference.managerial positions are lower. This is borne by US example in In 1980, male to female1980s and 1990s (Wootton, 1997) and more recently in Indian IT acceptability ratio wassector. This influence is at many levels. Laws get framed quickly, 46:12 with 38% indicatingresistance from peers or other employees is non-existent as there no preference. In 2002is enough room for all to co-exist and moreover premium attached more than two-third malesto success is lower, so a positive cycle sets in where a woman PM could not care less with agets motivated by acceptability by colleagues, ability to experiment female boss, though it wasand take risks and also aided by quick friendly laws. still below preference for a male boss.4.4 HR policiesEven before women became professional managers, we were struck with issues like workplacediscrimination, glass ceiling, sexual harassment that effected all women. Women professional PMswould always be subjected to such additional battles or advantages. Suffice to say, things are notsame.In companies that have HR policies acknowledging and promoting gender diversity, supportingwomen employees at all levels, the firm performance improves. A diversity policy has a greaterinfluence on firm success. However, there was little research support for correlating company’ssuccess to having a woman CEO/Head. (Dezso & Ross, 2008). Failure to have formal humanresources policies that are friendly and accommodative of women’s personal commitments alsomatter in their success. (Bloom & Kretschmer, 2009)7 Page
  8. 8. 4.5 Mars and Venus: impact of gender bias and social conditioning In addition, despite the best of intentions by all concerned, there may be a number of obstacles to theidentification, attraction, and development of female managerial talent. These could take the form ofan aversion among females to competitive environments, resistance among men to working withwomen , conflicts between the ―masculine‖ behaviors associated with leadership and the ―feminine‖behaviors expected of women socially. (Dezso & Ross, 2008)5. Performance effectiveness measurementIn projects, measurement of performance effectiveness has been a continuous challenge. Tangibles,with little help from technology are well captured and we have a tendency to then relate performancewith what we can measure than what we should. When we talk of women in workplace and theirperformance effectiveness we have to lay even more emphasis on measuring the intangibles. Thecontribution of women are more long-term, in softer dimensions like but not limited to team cohesion,ethical conduct, employee loyalty and retention, effective customer communications and more. Whileall these must eventually reflect in topline and bottomline of the project or the company, it is notalways immediately so. As such, contributions by effective women PMs, are still to be fully measuredand acknowledged. For near future, such assessment would continue to be subjective andperceptive.Secondly, a close scrutiny of impact of personal attributes and environmental factors would show thatperformance effectiveness of women in PM role and that of company/project are in resonance. Agreat work environment would create more successful women PMs, be equal opportunity place for all,and also be more likely to sustain long-term business success.6. ConclusionAlvin Toffler, analyzing and comparing the role of women and men in industrial revolution, aptlysummed social structuring of roles where women primarily engaged in non-inter-dependent house-work worked to less mechanical rhythms and the men worked to exact opposite structuredenvironments. In the information age, or the third revolution after agricultural and industrial revolution,work-home boundaries are blurring, housework with nuclear families and help from technologybecoming much less and due to other socio-cultural changes, the roles are again being redefined.Women will adapt and are adapting well to new role balancing career and family. Men are alsoresponding likewise to changed roles. Since industrial age mindsets, in both women and men, aredeep-rooted for close to a century, it is taking a while before they change.Personal attributes for success in Project environments remain same for men and women. This laysgreater emphasis on factors like work-life balance for women. But then not all rules are same, nor canthey be same. Such rules refer to evolutionarily wired gene code, deep-rooted behaviors, socialconditioning that is not so deep-rooted and some biases that continue more as legacy. Rules that arepurely legal and grant gender equality are challenging in their own way to implement but it is themindsets that are primary driver for that as well as long-term impact.Workplace attributes of information age contribute favorably to success of women PMs. Also, sinceadvent of modern workplace with increased participation by women, more and more literature is8 Page
  9. 9. available to guide them on workplaces that are and are not conducive to success as PMs. This isbringing about changes in policies and attitudes, creating a vicious cycle, positively impacting theirsuccess probability.“What the world needs today is not more competition but woman’s native genius for sympathetic co-operation” (Agnes Meyer, US journalist, 1953) It could not be more true even now.7. ReferencesA Mehra, M. K. (2001, March). The Social Networks of High and Low Self-Monitors: Implications forWorkplace Performance. Administrative Science Quarterly , 121-146.Bloom, N., & Kretschmer, T. a. (2009, Sep). Work- Life Balance, Management Practices, andProductivity. International Differences in the Business Practices and Productivity of Firms, NationalBureau of Economic Research , pp. 15-54.Carayannis, E. G., Kaloudis, A., & Mariussen, A. (2008). Diversity in the Knowledge Economy andSociety: Heterogeneity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.Dezso, C. L., & Ross, D. G. (2008). ―Girl Power‖: Female Participation in Top Management and FirmPerformance. SSRN .Jones, D. (2009, 8 5). Often, men help women get to the corner office. USA Today .Kanter, R. (1976). The impact of hierarchical structures on the work behavior of women and men.JSTOR .M. Hornyak, L. (2003). Competition: How Women Can Hold Their Own in the Workplace.MARTIN, T. W., & KENNETH, J. (1975). The Impact of Dual-Career Marriages on. FemaleProfessional Careers: An Empirical Test of a Parsonian Hypothesis. Journal of marriage and thefamily .Rapoport, R., & Bailyn, L. (2002). Beyond work-family balance: advancing gender equity andworkplace performance.Rhona Rapoport, L. B. (2002). Beyond work-family balance: advancing gender equity and workplaceperformance.Semadar, A. R. ( 2006). Comparing the validity of multiple social effectiveness constructs in theprediction of managerial job performance. Journal of Organizational Behavior , 443-461.Tanenbaum, L. (2003). Catfight : Rivalries Among Women--from Diets to Dating, from the Boardroomto the Delivery Room.Triandis, H. C., McCusker, C., & Hui, C. H. (1990, Nov). Multimethod probes of individualism andcollectivism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 59(5) , 1006-1020.9 Page
  10. 10. Twenge, J. M. (Jul 2001). Changes in womens assertiveness in response to status and roles: Across-temporal meta-analysis, 1931–1993. . Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 81(1) ,133-145.UNDP, U. N. (2011). Human Development Report 2011: Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future forAll. UNDP.Wootton, B. H. (1997). Gender differences in occupational employment. Monthly Labor Review , 15-24.8. Author’s Profile: Sandeep has over 24 years of experience in leadership roles in various sectors in managing large projects and operations alike. An ex-Army officer and an alumnus of prestigious Indian School of Business, he has been Program Manager in India and US, for IT projects in government, insurance, energy, retail and healthcare sectors for over a decade. Sandeep is well-read and his diverse interests range across technology, decision sciences, social media, behavioral economics, social psychology and popular bestsellers. Sandeep has been visiting faculty in Project Management, strategy and analytics subjects in management institutes in public and private sectors. An independent consultant, Sandeep is set to pursue his fellowship in information and decision sciences, from August, 2012. Mail Id: sk@quantleapconsulting.com10 Page

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