Business of Men

Male-dominated fields: How to leap the hurdles and get ahead


There are some male-dominated fields where successful women are few and far between. Sectors like investment banking, engineering, and politics are more welcoming to women than they were fifty years ago, but the glass ceiling still exists if you don’t take steps to get ahead.

How to get ahead in male-dominated fields

Never throw in the towel

Powerful, successful women don’t give up. They don’t go home at the end of a tough day and say, “You know what? I can’t do this.” They believe in their skills and commitment to the job. They know they have what it takes to succeed in male-dominated fields, and they don’t let anyone—or anything—get in their way.Be confident, be professional, and above all, ask for help from your mentors if you need someone to watch your back.

Men vs. women

There are key differences between men and women: men tend to push themselves forward, even if they don’t have a clue, whereas women are more reluctant to speak up and toot their own horn. While scientists have proven that there isn’t a direct link between genetics and empathy, research suggests thatstrong social factors and a different hormonal makeup may explain why women are moreempathetic than their male counterparts.

Women tend to be more conscientious about doing well at their jobs, often to the point of saying “yes” to every assignment and overextending themselves to prove their worth—a leading cause for burnout.According to Forbes, these “people pleasing” tendencies can have the opposite effect: Instead of highlighting your future leadership potential, employers may view you as a passive or indecisive follower. Working in male-dominated fields puts you at a disadvantage, so you will naturally want to prove your worth. However, stand up for yourself, set your limits, and don’t let others take advantage of your natural urge to be a good employee.

Work with your strengths in male-dominated fields

Own the power that you have. According to Sallie Krawcheck, former Wall Street CEO, co-founder and CEO of Ellevest,strong “female” traits include complex decision-making, risk awareness, long-term thinking, and relationship focus. Use this to your advantage in male-dominated fields. All of these skills are prized in managers and leaders. By showing off how much better you can handle difficult situations and conflicts, you are positioning yourself as a leadership candidate. This will stand you in good stead when a promotion comes along.

Be proud of the hard work that got you this far

Most men are more than happy to tell the world how awesome they are, whereas women have a natural tendency to play down their achievements. If you excelled in your academic studies and graduated with high honors or with a degree from an Ivy League college, don’t hide your accomplishments for fear of intimidating your sensitive male colleagues. Visit and hang your degree or college diplomas on the wall with pride. You worked hard for this, so celebrate your achievements!

Be prepared to socialize after hours

There is a lot of truth in the rumor that the best deals happen on the golf course or in a bar after work. Men in male-dominated fields often interact with each other in bars, clubs, and at sporting venues. They chew the fat and make valuable connections. You may not want to watch baseball and drink beer with your colleagues, but if you become part of the “team,” you stand a much better chance of progressing in male-dominated fields.

How can women deal with this outdated situation of male-dominated fields?

Women in particular are often unwilling to ascend to conditions that perhaps come more from a patriarchal society. Focus on yourself and sell well – they often don’t share these values. If the woman wants to change something here, it’s not that easy. Because it has to adapt to a certain extent, to this leadership culture and the corresponding criteria that bosses – for whatever reason – still use. Each of us who made it to the top have adapted in part to the system and what was required. But if we get to the point that those who are ready to take on responsibility deliver the results and show competence – that these women are also promoted, then many women are also ready to take on leadership responsibility.

Women can empower themselves by realizing that you have to make yourself visible, put yourself in the foreground, so that such tasks can be entrusted to you. You have to strengthen your personal branding: Where are my competencies, what are my topics? Today there are so many ways to position yourself in this way – on social media, for example. In addition, you have to network more closely and create your own networks in which you can make a career, get help – and possibly even be recognized for future tasks.

Women can use some of their resources to work for themselves rather than for the employer. This also includes going to the right meetings and events – even if it may not serve the task I have to do today. There is always a trade-off between the performance I am paid for and the performance I owe myself in order to keep myself attractive to future employers.

Is the industry changing at the moment?

At the moment a lot is changing for the better. New work, flexible work structures … all of this plays into opportunities for women in male-dominated fields. The management culture is becoming more cooperative, changing towards a style that is perhaps seen more as feminine. Topics such as the gender pay gap are much more present in public than they used to be. Women put their issues on the public agenda with greater self-confidence. Movements like “Me too” may have contributed to this.


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Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best. We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration. LinkedIn

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