Six Sage Takeaways from APMP’s Virtual Women’s Summit

In August, APMP held it’s first-ever Women’s Virtual Summit – a worldwide, online event, spanning all time zones, and focused on how women can advance in the workplace. Their most accessible event yet, the Summit presented 74 speakers, sharing 40 sessions that addressed the most pressing, current, and emerging issues for professional women.

Yet, I heard more than a few people ask, “If 80% of proposal professionals identify as female, why do we need a Women’s Virtual Summit?” Yes, but as proposal professionals, we are constantly collaborating with other teams throughout the organization. And, despite accounting for 50% of the US population, women remain underrepresented up and down the corporate ladder.

Women hold just 38% of manager-level positions. For every 100 men who got promoted to management, only 85 women advanced to the same position. (McKinsey & Company) The higher up the corporate ladder we go, the fewer women we find; women executives account for approximately 23% of executives and 47% of support staff. (Catalyst) At the CEO level, men outnumber women by approximately 17 to one. (Morningstar)

In 2020, women earned approximately 84% of what men earned. It would take 42 extra days of work for women to earn what men did in 2020. (Pew Research Center) Yet, women who negotiate for raises and promotions are 30% more likely to be considered as “too aggressive” or “intimidating”. (Business Insider)

When it comes to stress, the gap between women and men who say they are burned out has nearly doubled: 42% of women and 35% of men in 2021, compared to 32% of women and 28% of men last year. (McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org)

When it comes to equity in the workplace, 77% of women say the biggest obstacle is the lack of information on how to advance. Only 37% of women said that their companies provide information on career paths that lead to executive roles. And only 41% said they have a network of coaches, mentors, and sponsors offering them career guidance. (Working Mother Research Institute)

So, how do we advance in the workplace and change the statistics? Where do we go for information and guidance? We go to the women who are paving the way – at an event focused on overcoming our challenges with real-world solutions.

This month, our team was fortunate to attend the APMP Virtual Women’s Summit, along with 600+ attendees and presenters from all over the world. Here are six sage takeaways we can all take action on now:

1. Know your worth. It all starts with you believing in yourself and what you can bring to the table. You are not just the proposal manager – you are leading the pursuit and managing the resources. Claim your achievements. No one is you, and that is your power.

2. Make our value known. Put yourself in rooms where you should be; BD meetings and pre-bid meetings. Communicate your contributions and your insights. If something appears off, speak up. If someone needs help, help out. We make our value known and bring value to our space by showing up, being present and being involved.

3. Imposter syndrome. Taking time to reflect on how you got here reminds you that you are worthy – and have something valuable to add to the conversation based on your experience.

4. Asking for a raise. It is not rude to ask – it is how we ask. Do your research – find out if your organization conducts salary audits – know your worth and back up your request with data.

5. Work/life balance. One speaker talked about “self-care” – how pushing back from her desk and closing her eyes for five minutes helped her regroup and refresh. Another talked about how volunteering helps her unplug and refresh. Another recommended shoring up your network – how it’s easier to unplug when you know your team has your back and you won’t return to chaos.

6. Communicate with confidence. You are not responsible for others reactions and emotions, but you are responsible for how your communications are perceived. Understand the personalities on your team – and their communication styles. One speaker shared how she calls new colleagues right after her first email – sharing your voice and personality helps people better interpret your email communications. Another speaker recommended swapping words like “housekeeping” for leader-centric terms like “scribe.”

Thank you APMP for bringing light to today’s challenges. It was a day full of energy and excitement, inspiring speakers and actionable insights. Keep calm and proposal on!

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