Tips for Working in a Male-Dominated Industry
By: Mehak Dureja, SDSU Chapter Member
As we near the end of our undergraduate careers, we tend to face more scenarios that challenge us to fight the stereotypes against women set in a male-dominated industry. According to a report from the Center for American Progress, women have outnumbered men on college campuses since 1988, however, they only make up 5 to 20 percent of the top leadership positions in fields such as law, medicine, and business. Progress has surely been made, however, the statistics speak for all the women on the front lines still fighting for respect and to be taken seriously in their workspaces. Here are some tips for you ladies to help you feel more empowered and confident in male-dominated industries:
1. Let go of the inside voice that is telling you to be polite:
“Never apologize for the space you take up”. We all feel the need to treat everyone the way we want to be treated, however, in a work atmosphere it is important for us to watch our wording when phrasing certain sentences to avoid coming off as submissive. For example, when you are running late to work, instead of saying, “I am sorry for the delay”, you can rephrase it and say, “Thank you for your patience”. As much as you want to apologize, you should not overdo it because it may give your male peers an unspoken power. Here are some more phrases to practice that can aid you in obtaining respect and maintaining a healthy, professional relationship with your male coworkers-
2. Give yourself credit for your success
A lot of the time, women suffer from something called imposter syndrome. They feel like a “phony” when it comes to their job and therefore have a hard time giving themselves credit for their accomplishments in their job. If you’re in a male-dominated field, you have most likely felt this way either in your head or maybe due to a co-worker's hurtful or condescending remarks. Usually, these insecurities aren't true, however, these things can often become self-fulfilling prophecies. These thoughts and feelings of self-doubt could be giving your co-workers the idea that you are less capable, hardworking, or competent than them. Be proud of the work you are producing, and own it because you have earned and do belong in your workplace!
3. Other women are your support system, not your competition.
“A win for one of us is a victory for all”. Creating bonds with other women in your field can be instrumental in having a happy and successful experience in a male-dominated workplace. You can support and encourage one another to persevere! You are each other’s hype woman, if you see another woman being dismissed or not being given the credit they are due, speak up for them and have their back. We are all in this together!
Overall, being a woman working in a male-dominated field is not an easy road to take, but it is definitely a rewarding one. The pressure comes with the job, but the real challenge is overcoming it and finding the right way to thrive in the workplace. Discouragement is real, but so are the moments of success, victory, and excitement that you feel when you have achieved your goals and made it on the other side.