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Women project managers: the exploration of their job challenges and issue selling behaviors

Linda S. Henderson (University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA)
Richard W. Stackman (University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA)
Charles Y. Koh (University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 6 September 2013




The purpose of this study is to explore women project managers as a group in order to generate new understanding about the present project context within which they work and to promote new research‐based ideas for optimizing their potential in business organizations. To this end, the paper explore their demographics and project characteristics, their project challenges and issue selling moves, and their perspectives on the advantages and disadvantages for women in this profession.


Data were collected using quantitative and qualitative questionnaire items of 211 female project managers in North America.


The research results show significant associations among women project managers' career, age, cost of their projects, and their professional certifications. In addition, their challenges and issue‐selling moves produce six factors related to their influence of others. Lastly, the results reveal women's self‐described advantages and disadvantages in the project management profession showing that while women project managers do continue to experience marginalization from gender bias, they are leveraging particular job challenges and issue selling circumstances to their advantage in moving through gender bias.

Research limitations/implications

The results of this study contribute to our knowledge of important real‐world challenges and career development opportunities for women managing contemporary projects. Several implications for future research that build on women's issue selling in project management are discussed. Suggestions for broadening the sample in future research are also included.

Practical implications

This paper highlights several important ways in which business organizations can strengthen and optimize their women project managers, and offset second‐generation gender bias.


This is only the second study to consider the real‐world contextual factors of women's projects, and the first study to explore their perspective specifically in terms of their job challenges, issue selling, and self‐described disadvantages and advantages in managing projects. Business organizations are in a unique historical position to uplift their project management capacity and leadership talent through developing and promoting women project managers.



Henderson, L.S., Stackman, R.W. and Koh, C.Y. (2013), "Women project managers: the exploration of their job challenges and issue selling behaviors", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 6 No. 4, pp. 761-791.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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