June 26, 2015 – As APMP continues to look deeper into its membership data, one thing we know for sure is that the proposal industry is changing. According to the grey-haired people I have talked to and learned from, this industry was once dominated by men who were considered business development acrobats who could drive millions of dollars into their respective companies.
Like most evolving industries, times change. Men are still here, but they
have been joined by a lot of women who have proven themselves every bit of the “business winners” of their male counterparts. The other big change is that millions of dollars have yielded to billions of dollars.
As unscientific as this statement is, (noted by me during several planned, but randomly timed spot checks) at this year’s Bid & Proposal Con 2015 in Seattle, WA, women visited exhibitor booths much more frequently than their male counterparts. Fellas, during this unscientific analysis, it wasn’t even close.
Why is this so? Because women have earned more “recommendation and general buying power” in their companies. Period. The fact that there were (a lot) more women visiting exhibitors than men is supported by numbers from APMP member data.
The gender difference in the world’s largest association dedicated to the entire proposal development lifecycle is widening. Currently 66 percent of all APMP members are women as compared to 34 percent men. And because APMP’s membership is broad enough to reflect the proposal development industry in general, this means that 66 percent of proposal development professionals are women and 34 percent are men. That’s a big difference.
The 66 percent vs. 34 percent differential includes all titles in APMP’s membership, by the way. For now, this simply means that more women are pursuing careers in the proposal industry than men. But what I saw on the show floor in Seattle has additional implications. Having the power to recommend company purchases or having direct buying power carries a currency all its own. Any HR professional will tell you that having purchasing power is a fast track to senior management. Whether you are a male or female, if you have purchasing/buying power, you are more likely to lead. If you don’t have it, and you have the ambition to grow in the industry and your company, then work toward it.
You could debate, (but why would you?), that men hold more senior positions in the industry and there are more men in business development and sales positions. For now, that is true. One could also argue that men still dominate the industry in countries where women have yet to enter the workforce as enthusiastically as in the United States or countries throughout Europe. That’s also true.
However, it is an undeniable fact, that if current APMP member trends continue, women will continue to step forward in their respective companies. We can also hypothesize that women will be promoted to be on the leadership teams in their companies, because like men before them, they now have the numbers, they have or are gaining the experience and most important, they will have earned it.