Women in projects by Sally Jabaley
What made you want to become a TAFAWOQ facilitator?
I became involved with TAFAWOQ at the beginning of its development. I was retired from full-time work, but decided to continue working part-time in order to stay active and give young project engineers the benefit of my many years’ experience in oil and gas and infrastructure industries. The concept and objectives had already been decided, but I came on to help develop the curriculum and content of the courses. We used Shell Project Academy as the foundation for material and course design, but made numerous modifications to make TAFAWOQ more relevant to the diverse audience in Qatar.
How has project management shifted with regard to women?
In many industries and around the globe, women are taking on more visible roles in projects. When we look at the key personal skills of a project manager—team building, negotiations, conflict management, inspiring team members, supporting team members—women are good at all of these things. Women naturally tend to be good project managers, as they are excellent multitaskers, and understand priorities for their time and actions that bring the greatest results. Women also tend to be good team players, and as such, are good at managing teams without the need for constant recognition. Because of this, women have great success as project managers and at running teams.
Are there challenges specific to women in the project management profession?
Women tend to look for the overall success of the team versus their own individual success, which they tend to downplay, and that can prevent them from getting the recognition they deserve. Women are also action-oriented; they are not afraid to take on a task themselves, rather than delegate, which can also be a drawback to good project management, which relies on delegation of tasks and work.
In addition, in the Middle East and Islamic cultures, women are taught to function in the background and be less assertive in the company of men. However, during the group activities in TAFAWOQ courses, I have noticed some of the women taking leadership roles in their groups, organizing the men in the group, ensuring all opinions are heard, and leading the group to a decision or result. In most cases, the women in our courses take the learning seriously, and do well in both the core course and the exams.