Business of Men

Tips for women in male-dominated industries

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There are plenty of industries and jobs that are male-dominated. For example, the number of women in trucking is relatively low.

According to data from the Current Population Study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and BLS, the following are ten other jobs where women are underrepresented.

  • Software developers
  • Farmers including agricultural leadership positions
  • Financial services professionals including financial analysts
  • C-site roles
  • Aerospace engineering
  • Architecture
  • Pilots

Women in any industry can face challenges, but what if you’re in one that’s male-dominated, or you’re one of only a few women who work in your company?

The following are tips for women in a male-dominated industry or job.

Be assertive

It’s unfortunate, but women are often afraid when they’re assertive it’s going to come off negatively, while men are applauded for assertiveness.

Don’t worry about the perception—speak up, be decisive, be clear, and be firm.

You don’t have to be rude to be assertive. What you do need to do is feel comfortable sharing your ideas, opinions, and preferences.

If you want something, ask for it.

Women are less likely than men to negotiate their pay, and if you don’t ask for it you might not ever get it.

When you’re communicating, skip the urge to add qualifiers.

Women will frequently say things like they aren’t sure, or they’re sorry when they’re speaking up.

Drop this all together. Be brief and be certain with your words.

If you are interrupted, don’t lose your cool, but realize that being interrupted may have less to do with you being a woman and more to do with you, perhaps being too long-winded in an explanation.

You don’t have to be a yes person if it doesn’t serve you either. If you need and want to say no, then do it.

Don’t dwell on the fact that you may be one of few women

You can recognize that you’re a woman working in a male-dominated field, and you can accept the challenges that can bring. However, don’t spend too much time dwelling on it.

If you dwell, it’s going to shape your views of everything around you, and sometimes these views may not accurately represent what’s really happening.

Accept the challenges you may face, find solutions and move forward.

If you view yourself as a victim because you’re in a male-dominated world, that’s what you’re going to come off as to others as well.

Develop your skills

One of the most important things a man or a woman can do for their career is always learn, work on development, and build their skills.

As a woman, even if you’re in a challenging work environment, you always want to appear confident and ready to answer tough questions that perhaps your colleagues might not want or be able to.

A lot of this comes from your skills and knowledge. Never avoid development opportunities, and if no internal opportunities exist, then look for them on your own.

If you take the focus off being a “token” woman in your field and put it on building yourself as an invaluable and irreplaceable part of your team, you’re going to advance your career.

Find a mentor

A mentor is a great resource, whether you’re in a male-dominated field or not. When you work with a mentor, they’re going to be on your team as well as helping you find ways to advance your career.

You can learn more about what it takes to be part of the team, rather than feeling like an outsider.

Ideally, your mentor would be a senior woman in your company, but it can be a man as well.

Along with finding a mentor, you should also try to form friendships.

If you were in an office with primarily women, you would likely form bonds and friendships, so why not do the same if you work somewhere male-dominated?

Finally, if there are some women in your workplace, even if they’re few and far between, be someone who supports them, and if the opportunity arises, you can be a mentor as well.

You know what the challenges are, and you’ve lived them, so be an ally for other female coworkers rather than letting it be a competition.

Male-dominated fields are tough, and sometimes that can be an understatement but put the focus less on the demographics and more on yourself as someone who’s skilled, confident, and ready to tackle challenges.

About Susan Melony

susanm@thebusinesswomanmedia.com'

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