What does it take for women to be successful in a male dominated industry in 2018? In some industries achieving professional success means learning to thrive in a male-dominated workplace. Here are some practical tips to help stand out and succeed!
When working in a male dominated industry, hold yourself to a high standard
One of the best things you can do for your career is to become a respected expert in your field. This is achieved by holding yourself to the highest standards and being willing to put the time to develop your knowledge and skills. You will find that having pertinent information at your fingertips is a major asset in meetings and discussions. Continued learning and personal growth, combined with a positive, confident attitude, will take you far. But keep in mind that male dominated industries may make you feel like you have to know more than everyone to even raise your hand for a challenge or to voice your opinion. This will only hold you back. So find ways to step out of your comfort zone and become visible.
Non-verbal communication matters
You should also hold yourself high in a more literal sense. We demonstrate our status and authority nonverbally through our posture and body language. So sit up straight, keep your shoulders back, and hold your head high. It all contributes to projecting gravitas and authority.
When it comes to speech, keep your tone as deep as possible. Research shows authority is conveyed by deeper voices. When you become angry, sometimes when you laugh and talk, or when you are upset, your tone tends to raise and your message becomes less clear. Breath deeply and find a lower register.
Continue to share your points of view in a concise and direct way, and remember that should you be interrupted, it’s important to keep your cool. You may use humor as a way to let your interruptor know that you want to finish your thought and avoid any confrontation.
Read about how Captain Kate succeeded in a male occupation!
Don’t give into traditional ‘roles’ particularly in a male dominated industry
Given the social norms many women and men grew up with, it might still be expected that women will be in charge of tasks like picking up lunch or coffee. Don’t continue to give fuel to this narrative by offering yourself (even before you’re asked) or by quietly accepting an unfair request time and time again. Suggest instead that women and men colleagues take turns to do these tasks and share them in a more collaborative manner. Each team is different, but structures like rotas can be helpful.
In male-dominated industry you may need to stand up to sexism
Sectors such as finance, technology and construction, for example, regularly make women fight twice as hard to earn the respect of their male clients and colleagues. It takes steady grit and polite perseverance to overcome this boys’ club mentality.
So how to keep your head above the water? First off, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and your opinions. Confidence is essential– get used to speaking up in meetings and at conferences. Stand up for other women and men when you see them being mistreated. Creating an environment where everyone stands for everyone else will go a long way to improve your workplace and it will send a message to the men in the room of what is expected of them as well.
Also, seek to educate. After all, nothing will change if we aren’t willing to explain to our male peers how specific situations affect and undermine us in the workplace. Including, remainig a bystander in complicated situations. In bringing this to everyone’s attention, you become an advocate for other women in your industry and help make things better for everyone.
Don't miss Bia Figueiredo story, a woman in car-racing! Talk about a male dominated field!
Be professional and develop a thick skin
Yes – women in the workplace are sometimes treated differently to their male coworkers. If you work in a male-dominated industry with a boys’ club mentality, it’s important not to be over-sensitive. Again, using humor to let men know that they are making a sexist joke, or are asking you to do something they wouldn’t ask of a male colleague, can be a good way to difuse a situation while educating. If you want to be accepted and promoted for your achievements and you work in a male-dominated field, you can’t get horrified when you hear a swear word, for example. You don’t want your colleagues to change the conversation when you approach. And for this to happen, you may need to put your sensitivities aside. Learning about sports to understand many of their conversations is another way to break into their club.
Now, it’s equally important to know when to say “that’s inappropriate.” You have every right to be treated as a professional and respected at your job. And to get there, you have to be willing to stick up for yourself. Act, speak and carry yourself in the way you want and expect to be treated. Cultivate your executive presence.
In a field that’s mostly male, there will always be critics and people who cross the line. You mustn’t let this stop you from going after what you want and focusing on building your career.
Start your own business
Thinking of becoming your own boss? I say go for it. More women than ever before are becoming aware of the opportunities available to them through entrepreneurship. Generally speaking, women are open to learning and good at working with others – two vital ingredients needed to run a business.
Naturally, there are startup costs involved – you’ll need a sound business plan and financial order, and you may not be able to pay yourself much of a salary in the first year if you’re starting a business from scratch. The alternative is to buy a business that’s for sale and get a jumpstart on things like branding, processes, and building a customer base.
Over the last three years, the number of women-owned firms launched each day has doubled. Women are now launching an average of 1,200 new businesses a day, which is great news if you’re looking to become an entrepreneur yourself.
In conclusion, to achieve success as a woman in a male-dominated industry, be ready to work hard every day. Never lose confidence or fail to stand up for yourself. Remember that you earned your role for a reason, and know that if you’re prepared to be professional and work hard for what you want, you will eventually overcome any obstacles. Above all, never stop fighting the good fight – because things are definitely getting better.