Business of Men

How to be taken seriously as a woman in business in a male dominated industry

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With just under 30% of the real estate industry being represented by women, it can be tough for women to be heard in a roomful of men, especially when men are earning more than $131,000 annually to their female counterpart’s $92,735 annual income for doing the same job.

In fact, real estate is one of the few industries where the gender pay gap is actually increasing rather than decreasing, with the pay gap widening by 3.7% in the last three years. lf a powerful woman like Julie Bishop can be ignored by her male colleagues, what can the average woman in a male dominated industry do to be heard? 

As the Chief Operating Officer of a major Australian real estate network, Stockdale & Leggo, I understand all too well just how difficult it can be for women to command the respect we deserve in heavily male dominated industries. Getting to where I am today has not been easy, and I have had to overcome countless challenges and prove myself on a number of occasions.

Perhaps the most important lesson that experiences like these have taught me is that as women, we need to take empowerment into our own hands. While I am pleased to see more and more women stepping forward into leadership roles and becoming franchisees or partners, overcoming gender-based discrimination is still a serious problem for many women.

I believe that in order to truly take charge of our own futures, we need to first learn how to ensure we’re taken seriously by our colleagues. Here are my five best tips on how to be taken seriously in your workplace and advance your career.

Speak up

For some women, speaking up in the workplace can be incredibly intimidating, especially in a room full of people. Statistically, men tend to be more vocal in expressing their views and ideas in meetings, which means they are far more likely to be recognised and valued for their input.

By choosing to stay silent out of fear of saying something wrong, women are doing themselves a great disservice. Remember, there’s a difference between being aggressive and assertive, but it’s important to speak your mind and express your viewpoint.

Be accountable

Nobody likes to make mistakes in the workplace, but at some point or another human errors are bound to occur. Rather than quietly trying to sweep them under the rug or pretend they never happened – my advice is to own up your mistakes and learn from them.

The ability to hold ourselves accountable for our mistakes is the sign of a great leader, and it shows real maturity and strength of character. If you want to be taken seriously, it’s up to you to prove that you can be held accountable for all of your actions.

Grow a thick skin

If you truly want to succeed in a male dominated industry, it’s vital that you grow a thick skin and learn not to take things too personally. Constructive criticism is something that I know people in general can struggle with, and when this is the case, it becomes difficult for colleagues and superiors to give honest feedback.

Ultimately, people rarely enjoy giving negative feedback, and in a busy work environment, well-meaning advice can at times come off as blunt or rude. Keep in mind that it isn’t personal – it’s about the work – and leave your emotions at the door. Take their feedback on the chin and they’ll respect your maturity, and appreciate your willingness to listen.

Know your worth

In my experience, one of the most common reasons why women allow themselves not to be taken seriously in the workplace is because they actually don’t realise just how valuable they are. Research has shown that women doubt themselves far more than their male colleagues, and many women have a tendency to downplay their success.

I challenge you to take some time to sit down and really consider what you’re worth. Think about your knowledge, skills, expertise and abilities, and understand exactly what it is that you bring to the table – and then own it!

Empower other women

Finally, my last piece of advice as to how to be taken seriously as a woman in the workplace is to empower other women. We really do rise by lifting others, and it’s so important to connect with other women in your business or industry and support one another to succeed. We are stronger in numbers, and together we can make a lasting impact that will benefit us all.

About Anna Thomas

Anna Thomas is the Chief Operating Officer of major Australian real estate network, Stockdale & Leggo. She was recognised as a Telstra Business Women’s Awards Finalist in the Corporate and Private Award in 2016, a 2017 Finalist in the Real Estate Business Awards ‘Industry Thought Leader of the Year’ Award and a Bronze Stevie winner in the Woman of the Year category in the 2017 International Business Awards. She is also the Founder and Brand Ambassador of the ‘Empowered Women in Real Estate’ initiative, a community empowering women to believe in themselves and step forward into leadership roles. Twitter: https://twitter.com/stockdaleleggo

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