Women working in a male-dominated industry can feel overlooked, undervalued, and like they’re not operating on a level playing field. While you can’t always change your immediate environment or the behavior of others, there are things you can do to feel more empowered and to stand out.
It’s normal that you want to be accepted and respected at work, but don’t let that desire influence you to always “go with the flow” and behave the same way your colleagues do. While fitting in with your male colleagues sounds like a good way to encourage collaboration, this move should never come at the cost of your own unique identity.
Be your most authentic (yet professional) self at work because you absolutely don’t need to carry the weight of trying to be someone else on top of routine work stress.
Learn and Lead
Guidance and mentorship from a colleague you respect can provide new insights. If this person has more experience than you do currently and she or he has offered to provide you with tips and advice, take the opportunity to learn more as you develop your professional skills.
In addition, serving as a mentor offers new opportunities to lead others toward professional improvement and to build strong connections.
Concern for coming across as rude, demanding or ‘bossy” can hold you back from sharing your thoughts and making a meaningful contribution. However, there is a broad line between being “aggressive” and “assertive.”
When you know what you want, you need to be ready and willing to go for it. If you want a raise or promotion that you’re certainly qualified for, don’t be afraid to ask for it. It may be a challenge to approach management, but it will be an even bigger challenge for your bosses to dispute your request when you present facts and performance metrics with confidence.
Don’t Accept Disrespect
If you work in a male-dominated industry, you might hear comments that you don’t like. While it’s important that you don’t allow yourself to become easily offended, you also don’t want to let your colleagues disrespect you. Don’t allow comments you wouldn’t accept anywhere else. You’re just as qualified for your position as everyone else in your workplace, so don’t for a moment let others intimidate you. You’ve earned where you are and you have every right to thrive at work.