How Women Can Find Success in Traditionally Male-Dominated Fields
There is a common saying that it’s a man’s world, but over the past few decades, the narrative has been changing. Although men still occupy many positions of power and leadership roles, women are slowly earning their seat at the table too. This can especially be said about STEM, technology, and C-Suite positions that are traditionally classed as masculine career paths.
If you’re a woman entering a male-dominated field, you may be unsure of how to excel despite the odds that are stacked against you. The good news is that there are ways for you to break the glass ceiling and become a leader in your chosen field. As a side benefit of your success, you could inspire other women to enter these male-dominated fields and leave their mark too. On that note, this article will explore challenges you may face, how to overcome them, and how to come out on top in male-dominated fields.
The Current Situation
When it comes to women making their way into fields that are notoriously dominated by men, progress has been made over the years. A good example of progress when it comes to women working in male-dominated fields is the record-breaking 102 women who were elected into the House of Representatives in 2018. You can also find a growing presence of women in engineering over the past few decades. However, there is still room for many more, as statistics show only 14% of working engineers are women. What this tells us is that despite the progress that’s been made, women are still underrepresented in fields where men are traditionally the majority.
For women who do decide to take the bold step and work in male-dominated fields, they may have to work harder to establish themselves. This is because if they don’t, they may not be able to withstand the unique challenges they’re faced within the workplace. Research has found that women tend to leave the engineering field at a faster rate than men. Some reasons for this trend are bullying, lack of career development opportunities, and bureaucracy.
Nonetheless, it is encouraging that women are starting to take up roles that have been labeled masculine careers. By these women succeeding within these roles, it creates exposure and a world of opportunity for other women who aspire to do the same. Let’s look at a few ways women can succeed in these fields
Navigate Gender-Based Dynamics
As a result of gender-based dynamics in the workplace, women are likely to face their fair share of challenges. One is gender discrimination, especially within STEM fields. Many women cite this as a reason that they find it harder to succeed in their jobs. Gender stereotypes about the roles of men and women can result in unequal treatment. In addition to this, there’s also the prevalent issue of pay gaps between men and women.
Discrimination is especially said to be present in work environments that men outnumber women and for those working in computer positions. To navigate these challenges, know what your rights are and don’t be afraid to speak out against gender discrimination at work. You can do so by reporting it to management or filing a grievance report if you happen to be part of a union. It would also help if you review your company’s policies to see if there are any in place that protects you.
By taking these steps, you’re reinforcing the importance of gender equality in the workplace. You’re also advocating for other women who may be too afraid to speak up, which will hopefully create a more equal workplace in the long run.
Assume Leadership Roles
Women bring diversity and different skills as well as abilities to the workplace. This can contribute to the success of an organization as in most cases, the more diverse the better. For this reason, as a woman in a male-dominated field, you should exhibit the qualities of a leader and aspire to be one. This can make people uncomfortable, especially if they aren’t used to women assuming leadership positions and taking directives from them. Hopefully, by consistently being in environments where women are in leadership positions, it will become a norm.
One of many leadership strategies to try implementing on your journey to becoming a better leader is making it your mission to show up and be seen. This means looking for ways to continuously add value to your organization and thrive within your role. It’s also important that you challenge yourself by taking up new challenges and assessing your competencies.
Lastly, it’s imperative that you speak up and let your voice be heard to make a positive impression on management. Using your voice and sharing your ideas can add value to the workplace, especially when you have a unique perspective to add. While women often complain that their ideas are dismissed and their efforts take longer to be recognized, try not to be disheartened and keep pushing. Don’t be afraid to self-promote, especially when you’ve worked hard and feel you deserve recognition.
Encourage Other Women
As a woman, if you’ve been afforded the opportunity to be in a leadership position in a male-dominated field, help close the gender gap by recruiting other women. A way to do this would be to share your positive experiences with other women who may be aspiring to break into similar fields. This can be done through sharing information in forums or volunteering to speak at industry-related conferences, women’s gatherings, colleges, and schools.
If you have any say in the recruitment process at your place of employment, suggest new ways that diversity can be incorporated into the recruitment strategy. For instance, if you use software for your recruitment process, you could try using diversity recruitment software to help you fill positions. Diversity recruitment software sometimes uses artificial intelligence to identify qualified candidates and improve your job descriptions, which can help eliminate unconscious bias. Making sure that women are included in your organization’s branding, especially when posting job advertisements, could encourage other women to come on board too.
Some industries like truck driving, which play a key role in the U.S. economy, are experiencing shortages. Presently, middle-aged to elderly men are dominating this field, so they could consider diversifying to fill the shortages. It is yet another industry that could encourage female employees to come on board by changing their messaging and branding. Aside from trucking, the trade services industry also has vast opportunities. There is a high demand for plumbers with an expected growth of 21% by 2022. This is an opportunity to recruit female plumbers by creating awareness about the career options women have within this field and changing stereotypes about it being a man’s job.
Don’t Be Discouraged
Succeeding in a male-dominated field could mean that you’re perceived as difficult to work with by both women and men. That being said, try not to be too discouraged by the difficulties that you face by remembering how far women have come over the years.
Even if you’re penalized for success, the hope is that the gender gap in such industries will close to a point where women excelling in such industries becomes a norm.
The reality is that facing challenges as a woman immersed in a workplace full of men is inevitable. This can make your efforts to leave a mark feel like an uphill battle. While it may be the case, remember that your presence in such fields matters. Your ability to endure and succeed is one of many ways to pave the way for other women with similar dreams.
About the Author
Jori Hamilton is a late twenty’s freelance writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. Coming from a marketing background, Jori took interest in blogging and content marketing and found a particular interest in health and well-being, productivity, and mindfulness.
With eight-plus years of writing experience, she decided to jump fully into a freelance writing career. This gave her the opportunity to write even more content on other subjects that mattered to her, including politics, technology, and the environment.
Jori has contributed to Life As A Human, Create & Cultivate, Clinician Today, Girl Talk HQ, and a number of other great publications.