Excel In A Male-Dominated Industry: The Basics

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A woman in a male-dominated industry
Say yes to projects that will strengthen your reputation and advance your career, ladies. Don't say yes to everything. Pexels photo - CC0.

Although women in the workplace have come on in leaps and bounds since the dark days of the past, let’s face it – there is still a lot of work to do. Sadly, there are still plenty of examples sectors of employment that gear toward men. And if you’re the kind of girl that loves technology, engineering, or just straight leadership in any industry, it’s a tough world out there right now. But you can never give up. Just because something isn’t right doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Here’s how to excel in a male-dominated industry and make way for change for gender equality. Yes, you can survive – and, indeed, thrive. Let’s get started with the basics.

Be really good at what you do

In male-dominated industries, you are going to face more than just standard competition. You’ll probably encounter a certain amount of sexism, too – whether it’s conscious or not, you often find that jobs go to the boys. The only way to make a strong impression is to be exceptional at what you do, in more areas than you might think. Let’s say you want to get into engineering. An engineering management Masters might be useful for you to prove you have business knowledge, as well as technical acumen, and can help you stand out from the crowd. Ultimately, you have to be the best you can possibly be.

Put yourself out there

Women tend to think a lot more about consequences than men, and you will often see this play out in the workplace. A lot of men, for example, will be happy to stand up, present in front of a crowd, and take risks when it comes to putting themselves out there. A lot of women, however, can worry about the way they portray themselves. At the end of the day, it’s not personal – it’s only business. And in understanding this fact, you will find yourself handling the pressures of advanced roles with a lot more ease than before. Turn that male-dominated industry on its head.

Cut to the chase

We all know that the average woman is a better communicator than the average man regarding our personal lives. But sometimes, this fact can go against you in a male-dominated business environment. Most men like to be as brief as possible when communicating anything. It’s important to be flexible, and learn how to talk in a similar language.

Better handle work pressures with these tips
Here’s how to thrive in a male-dominated industry. Pexels photo (CC0).

Be strong in a male-dominated industry

Some women might feel they have to bend over backwards to excel in a male-dominated industry. But the truth is that doing this will cause you more problems than are worth your while. Say ‘yes’ to the projects you can manage. And always put yourself forward for anything that may help strengthen your reputation. But don’t become the woman that always says ‘yes’ to everything. Knowing when to say no – when you don’t have the time to help – is vital to establish yourself as a serious professional.

Have a role model

Finally, it can be tough to excel in a male-dominated industry as a woman. But there are plenty of role models out there to inspire you. Find other confident women who have already tasted success, and work out how they made it. Implementing their strategies will help you face – and defeat – your personal challenges.

28 COMMENTS

  1. I work in the finance industry; still extremely dominated by men. I’d happy to say that my last 6 bosses have been women; all of whom I consider role models (albeit to varying degrees haha). Great post!

  2. This is really good advice! I really like the put yourself out there one. We shouldn’t get intimidated by men and worry about what anyone else will think!

  3. This is totally depressing. Why should we have to change ourselves just to work? And where the hell is the corresponding article telling men to change in order to work better with women? Who is telling men to try to speak a little less briefly and a little more eloquently?

    • While I love this article, Christy, BOY do I agree with Jay. Meeting somewhere in the middle is what we need to have true equality. I wonder if I will get to see it in my lifetime.
      xx,
      mgh
      (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
      ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
      “It takes a village to transform a world!

      • Hi Madelyn, my two pennies, for what they are worth, is that there is unlikely to ever be real equality because of the nurturing nature of women. Our babies come first and that is the bottom line.

        • You are probably right, Robbie, but we can attempt to move closer to one another – and to respect each other’s talents, abilities and endeavors.

          Also, “equality” doesn’t mean “same” — it means equal opportunity, given commensurate talents, abilities, work-ethic, etc.
          xx,
          mgh

        • I probably disagree, being nurturing is a favorable skill / trait to have in a work environment for companies to be more effective. In my industry, construction, it is male dominated, having women in the team always bring better communication, conflict resolution, better outcome, where women don’t have that ego ahead of business needs. But I accept what you said is ture, but there are ways to bring that in to being advantageous

  4. Ah… But dealing with the sexism is really another thing. My radio silence over the last month has been because of the professional turmoil I am going through – and at the very center of it has been my gender. What you shared isn’t just advice but a mantra to chant when you are busy grinding your teeth…

  5. I am two steps below the CAO at my hospital and work with strong male personalities. The other day, a male colleague confronted me in an aggressive manner. When I escalated the issue to my direct supervisor, his response was “it must be a gender issue”……… WHAT!? Lol.

  6. Very interesting post, Christie. I am a woman in a largely male world and my experiences are that women often take a step back when they have their children. There children come first and work comes second. This is different to the men who put work first and leave the children to the woman. BTW, I disagree that men are short and to the point. I am short and to the point as I don’t want to waste hours discussing one thing and have a leaving time of 5pm. Men was to discuss everything to death and can’t seem to ever get to the point. I have taken to interrupting and putting them swiftly back on track [grin!]. I am considered to be an expert in my field so have a bit [read that as lot] of power.

  7. Thought, and comment, provoking post, Christy. Everyone needs to recognise that women are people with talents and abilities that are worth harnessing. We are a lesser world if they are ignored.

  8. Great advice for women seeking more senior roles!

    I agree that it’s so important that women who are trying to make it in a “man’s world” remain flexible in some ways such as speaking their language. But I love that you added a point after that about women being flexible only to an extent.

    The idea is that women need to command respect by being accommodating, yet not seeming like a pushover. Being smart about accepting projects also shows their ability to prioritize which is an essential skill in climbing the corporate ladder.

    Thanks for sharing. Will keep my eyes peeled for more great content!

    Cheers,
    J.T.

  9. Pour que l’homme et la femme soient en harmonie, ils doivent être égaux en droits.
    Cela passe par un salaire équivalant, il est essentiel que les femmes soient reconnues professionnellement.
    Ton ami Tony

  10. FANTASTIC! You have proven yourself to be a very skilled individual who has the capacity to do great things with their life. Continue to make us proud as you face new challenges and adventures.

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