How to set up a group for women in project management

by Elise Stevens | Futureproof Your Career Podcast

Jen Dolden was fed up with walking into a project meeting or networking event and finding she was the only woman in the room – again!

But when she started searching for a group of women she could lean on for support, she soon realised there wasn’t much out there, and she’d have to build one herself.

Emboldened by a small group of like-minded project managers, both men and women, Jen started Women in Projects Australia. Recently the group celebrated their one-year anniversary and they’re now considering branching out of Sydney with similar groups in Brisbane and Melbourne.

In this podcast with Elise Stevens, Jen explains how she built Women in Projects Australia and why it’s been such a success.

Points raised in this podcast:

  • When setting up a networking group, it’s vital to have a strong objective that makes the purpose of the group clear. For Women in Projects Australia, success is an environment where women are more confident to go after their goals and dreams.
  • The group should be a safe place for women to share their experiences, and somewhere they can get advice on how to deal with challenging work environments and support when it’s time to move on from a toxic employer.
  • Getting men involved as allies and supporters can create balance and perspective.
  • Don’t try to do it all alone. Having a few people in your founding group means you can lean in and out when life and work gets busy.
    Set a consistent meet-up time that suits most of the organisers and guests so people can plan ahead.
  • Time is valuable – it’s important to make every event worthy of your guests’ time with speakers, panels, and workshops as well as plenty of time to network.
  • Be mindful of the motivations of people who offer to speak at your events – make sure they’re appropriate and helpful for your group.
    Apps like Meet Up are useful tools for organisation and for spreading the word about your group to new people.
  • You should aim to attract enough people so there’s plenty to talk to but not so many that you can’t say hello to everyone.
    Food and drink are great ice-breakers.

About Jen Dolden:

Jen Dolden is a PMP certified Project Manager with more than 10 years’ experience in customer- facing projects across the finance, legal, government, manufacturing and logistics industries. She’s a specialist in operational change, benefit realisation, risk identification and mitigation and stakeholder engagement.

Her passion for helping people and the project management industry prompted her to start Women in Projects Australia in 2018.

Women in Projects Australia seeks to support project professionals striving for their goals and dreams. The group is a support network that helps project professionals build the confidence to achieve their goals. They meet on the third Tuesday evening of the month in Sydney.

You can connect with Jen on LinkedIn