“Elas Projetam” literally translates as “they (women) make projects” and perfectly encapsulates the focus of this recently-formed, voluntary organization in Brazil. Here, Vanessa Guimarães explains how the initiative aims to connect women working in project management and the thinking behind the launch of its first campaign “100 women in 100 days.”
Why do we want to certify 100 women in PRINCE2® in 100 days?
It doesn’t take much to see that Brazil still has a long way to go to achieve gender equality. Men dominate the project management profession and enjoy a very privileged position, both in terms of seniority and communication platforms. This needs to be challenged so I decided to create a new space which would empower women to do just that.
The idea is to promote and develop women in project management. Importantly, it’s not just about becoming a project manager but is equally focused on raising awareness of how these skills can benefit general career progression.
What is the 100-day challenge?
Last year, Elas Projetam grew from a one-woman idea into an organization with an official website and an enthusiastic group of women volunteers keen to support our aims. In 2019, we needed an attention-grabbing idea to raise our profile and start a much-needed conversation around gender equality in project management.
So, we set ourselves a challenge; 100 women certified in PRINCE2 Foundation in just 100 days.
We chose PRINCE2 firstly because it is a recognized qualification across the global project management community, but also for its accessibility. The Foundation course can be covered within a two to three-day window, making it manageable for participants both practically and financially.
We were also aware that professional certification can be the catalyst for career growth, building the confidence and skills of the learner.
It was also important for us to run the training course in cities which don’t traditionally hold events of this kind. We want to reach women who may not have even considered further qualification. It’s not something that is culturally strong in Brazil.
So, by creating a unique campaign, we hope to start that important discussion and encourage the industry to question the status quo.
Right now, there is strong engagement with women’s movements around the world. This has led to a great deal of activity around soft skills which is important – but with very little focus on certifications.
It’s also true that many women in Brazil have significant experience working in project teams, but still don’t feel they are ready to progress to project manager. Men on the other hand, will put themselves forward for a more senior role when they have only 60% of the requirements.
So rather than go down the people skills route, we decided to focus on gaining certifications to empower women – something no-one else is currently doing here.
Brazil has a great deal to offer. We are a large country, with the scope to deliver projects on a massive scale.
The success of this initiative won’t be measured by whether we reach the magic 100 figure. We are selling much more than a certification – otherwise, why would people come to our event when they can go elsewhere? Elas Projetam is not planning to become a training organization, but wants to set women on the pathway to greater empowerment.
By attending our events, they will meet like-minded women and benefit from ideas and advice to boost their careers. They will work together to develop strategies and nominate a locally-based ambassador to keep the group engaged via social platforms; helping them to feel part of something much bigger.