We spent the January issue of Project Management Tipoffs deciphering how specific generations of project management practitioner cited the very first events in popular culture that shaped our lives, with particular regard for World Events and Innovation. The results were culled from early returns on the 2013 Project Management Census – which, if you haven’t done yet, you can still take!
Some categories that were prominent in the early years of a person’s life shaped what categories were most commonly cited for that generation. It was more likely, for instance, that a Baby Boomer (those born between 1946 and 1964) would cite an Assassination than would a Millenial (born from 1981 and 2002), as the JFK and John Lennon killings held a significant amount of sway with our respondents. Likewise with innovations, a television-related development was going to carry a significant amount of influence on Baby Boomers, much more so than the Millenial who’s known it all of their life and might even equate it as one of life’s staples.
Today’s post tackles what influence gender has on these responses.
There are certain assumptions we have going in with gender in all walks of life, and the Census has been no different so far, as the results below show.
As can be seen, some categories of innovation hold a preferred memory status on each side of the sexual divide. The most popular reply tackled those related to the Computer (32% of all responses), which men preferred by just 6 percentage points (34.2% to 28.5%). In fact, men also had the advantage when answering the top three overall responses to women: Television (17% to 12.3%) and Engineering (by a commanding 16.6% to 6.8% margin). But save for the Calculator respondents (5.7% to 2.6%), they were the only categories in which Men held a siginificant command of the response. Women topped overall in six of 11 categories (Software, Recording, Music, Phones, Internet and Gaming [stay tuned for more on that shocker!]), but more significantly held command in more categories, too. Internet and Recording led the way. Recording responses (i.e. video recorders, VCRs and the like) got a margin of nearly 2.5 to 1 (8.1%-3.5%), whilst the launch of the World Wide Web came in at a crushing 6-to-1 ratio (8.9%-1.4%).
And as for the Gaming & Consoles margin favouring the women that we mentioned: a variety of new consoles, from the heyday of Atari to the advent of hand-held GameBoys, held sway, but no one development drove home a reason for the women’s offering of Gaming by an 8-to-6 margin to their Male counterparts (8.3%-6.1% if you’re scoring at home).
Things played mostly to expectation (or stereotype, if you prefer) on the contemporary event side of questioning, which specifically read “Which world event forms your earliest memory?” Royal events, for instance, were 3-to-1 in favour of Women (19.8%-6.7%, precisely). The widest comparative margin in any category came with Achievement (a +9.6 margin for Men, 25-15.4%), though this category was clearly the most popular with our respondents on both sides and not in any way decisive or by multiple factors.
It’s intriguing to realise that as the most popular of the 11 categories we were able to narrow it down to, it can be surmised that Achievement is the category most synonymous with a person’s optimism and hopes for realising our greatest possibilities. So with over 1 in 5 respondents citing things like Space missions (particularly landing on the moon), VHS recorders and completing the Channel Tunnel, there is a feeling of can-do in the project manager from the very start. For people responsible for all kinds of builds and demonstrable benefits realised, optimism is clearly a welcomed and confidence-entrusting trait.
But Achievement is not alone on the World Event stage as a beacon for humankind’s great possibilities. Consider the events we filed under a Political category: the first female English Prime Minister, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the end of oppresive regimes behind Apartheid and the Communist Bloc. You can also couple that with the events indexed into the Sport cateogry – another paragon of achievement and possibility – and the optimistic vibe continues to grow (excluding those who cited a notorious handball in Mexico ’86!).
Regardless, these three alone ranked 1st, 5th and 4th, respectively, amongst our Magnificent 11: they comprise 43.4% of all responses*. Sport, as you might expect, rates two times as highly with the Men (14.6-4.0%), whilst Women doubled up in the body politic (14.5-7.3%).
We’ve also asked 2013 PM Census takers “Thinking back to when you were 10 years old, where were you allowed to play out unsupervised by a responsible adult?” Though some thought we were audacious and getting off task with all this stuff, the wider hope in talking about culture and development was for an unparalleled study of the nature of project managers. As the Generational breakdown revealed, Baby Boomers tended to get less supervision. Exactly seven out of every 10 participants in this classification said they could play Wherever They Wanted To (or Could Get Away With). With Millenials, the number had twindled to just 25%, as structured play & boundaries became the norm.
By gender though, the boys appear to have stretched the elasticity of their unsupervised play boundaries a bit further. Nearly three out of the five Men (58.2%) answered Wherever I Wanted To, compared with just under two in five girls (39.3%).
Broken down further by generation, you begin to see more clearly that though the Boys had more leeway, their rope got short much more quickly than girls did. Going wherever you wanted had been cut almost in half for boys between the Baby Boomers and Generation X, with the decline remaining steady as the Millenial age approached. Girls, on the other hand, could still stretch the boundaries a bit by Generation X (only a four-point drop). Though it seems moot now, as the Gen X girls figure was halved to just 21.3% by the attentive parents of the Millenial.
*-This doesn’t necessarily mean that categories of a Pessimistic “If it bleeds, it leads” variety came in at just under 57%. Most categories were neutral in classification, like Royalty (as you can well imagine, the tremendous ups & tragic downs in Princess Diana’s life played a huge part in that one), Upheaval, British Life and, to a lesser extent, Musicians (though the death of Elvis Presley drove that category in somewhat sadder direction)