Great question Julianna. I can identify with your question as I work in a male dominated field -- currently the only female on a team of about 40.
I say, just be you!!!!! Stay true to who you are.
Don't look at the fact that there are more males than you. Don't shrink back / be intimidated. Your opinion and thoughts are just as important as anyone else's. I often find my male counterparts frustrated that I ask questions, I know they are grateful in the end as they didn't know the answer until I asked. :)
If you may be more of the quiet type like myself, celebrate your quietness. If you are more outgoing, celebrate your outgoingness. Just celebrate you!!!
The more you know who you are and how you are wired. Celebrate your differences.
BARBARA recommends the following next steps:
Hi Julianna - my advice: own it. Be a listener and a learner, but make sure it’s clear you’re not there to hang back, or listen to any bloviating while you wait to get a word in edgewise. Speak up and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to look “green”. Be confident in your intelligence (what you brought to the industry and what you’re developing), and how well you do your job. Don’t be afraid to show it. You can do all these things and still behave as a perfectly pleasant human being with a good sense of humor.
Definitely find a female mentor in your field. It may be someone whose style is not at all like yours, but is someone who models behaviors that help you identify the best version of those behaviors in yourself. Also, be faithful about continued professional development. Not only will you keep your general professional skills sharp, it’s a great way to connect with other women executives outside your company or immediate industry.
I've personally struggled with this at times. Is it ok to talk about my kids, to bring baked goods? to wear a skirt or dress, to be feminine? Do I need to be less caring/sensitive? And through my experience i've learned to just be ME. I was hired because I'm amazing at leading a team, and doesn't matter that I'm female...so I guess what I'm saying is that it's okay to have those questions about 'being a female in a male-dominated industry' but ultimately don't let it change you. If you do that, you'll be unhappy going in to work. Continue to be yourself!
And one other note, push back and speak up if you are ever feeling like you are being treated differently because you are a female. One example, I've lived. I was at a management meeting (which i'm part of the management team) and one of my male peers was asked to clean up the format of the visual management boards to make it look more presentable. After the meeting my peer pulled me aside and asked me to 'pretty up the board', because women tend to be better at that. I spoke up right then and there and told him, I'll help solve the problems, but 'cleaning up the format' was assigned to you". From then on, he began to treat me differently. Take-a-way. Demand respect! Now, luckily, this isn't something I deal with often, so when it does come up, i try to shut it down immediately!
It's important to self-promote! It is different than bragging, because you are advocating for yourself and showing employers why you are the best candidate. Find a women mentor once in your field of work to help guide you.
This is such a great question and there are so many great responses already. I would echo finding a womens resource group at your company as well as a mentor. There are also a lot of other great resources that can help you identify when you're falling into gender pitfalls (check out the book Nice Girls Still Don't Get the Corner Office), especially early in your career. Remember that your contribution is valuable and you were hired for a reason!
If there are other women in your line of work, build a network and support each other.
It helps to have a company the cares about diversity and inclusion.
I agree with Kerri! Always advocate for yourself and let others especially your leaders know of all the great things you are doing. As women, we bring so much to the table and all of our hard work should not go unnoticed. Also, always be confident in yourself and your abilities!
Hi Julianna! From my experience in tech, I've found one good piece of advice is to speak up. As women, we are taught to constantly say "I'm sorry" and be overly polite, which sometimes means not speaking up with our opinions or diminishing the value of what our opinion is. Try not to let that happen! It can be really tricky, especially as a newcomer into any job, but I think by consciously stating my opinion and remembering I have just as much of a right to be there as anyone else, I've been able to grow as a professional. I've also found replacing the "I'm sorry" with another expression, such as "I'd like to add" or "In addition", I've been able to state my opinion without feeling like I am interrupting someone too much or being rude. It also gets easier the more you do it!
There are countless studies out there that prove that having diversity in a board, team, or group improves results, and we always have to remind ourselves that we bring something new and different to the table that the team/company needs to be successful. We all earn our ways to every place in life that we are in!
I would also say to remember that every person is different and likes to be communicated with differently, regardless of gender, and developing those interpersonal skills are critical to feel accepted in any space or community, especially the professional one. Meeting everybody with their communication style makes you a better leader and gives you more power to change the culture and environment around you for the better!
And when all else fails, find a friend who understands what you're going through and support each other!
Camille recommends the following next steps:
Hi Julianna! I work at a public accounting firm and also work with multiple clients in various industries so I have been exposed to male dominated industries in my day to day work. My advice would be to find a mentor or advocate, regardless of gender, who will be someone who you can not only voice concerns to, but who will also go to bat for you. In my experience, having a mentor who allows for this has allowed me to become more confident in voicing my own concerns and in self promoting.
Additionally, I would say research the companies you are interested in working for and see if they have women inclusion networks or are advocates for women. For example, some companies that may be in male dominated fields of work might be involved with campaigns like HeforShe. A personal example is that my office attends with the Oregon State University's series for Advancing Women in Leadership. The series involves connecting professional women and men in the Portland area to discuss gender equality issues as well as tips on how to advocate for yourself. I've been able to network at these events and also learn tips that have helped me to be successful in my career.
Personally, I love this question. I read through all the other responses from the other amazing women- all GREAT advice (a lot that I am also taking notes from).
Own who you are. Speak up. Be confident. You were hired for a reason.
Definitely can't stress enough- find an advocate/ mentor who can help you through various challenges, celebrate your successes and help build your internal network.
Every woman deserves a seat at the table. If you do not have one, bring a folding chair.
We're cheering for you!
My key guidance is: Stay strong and do not let subtle gender influences / stereotypes creep into your mind! You might be immersed in an environment with male-dominated leadership, but remind yourself it doesn't always have to be. You may be in a culture that calls for more aggressiveness than you are used to, in order to compete. Stand tall and confident on the value you are bringing to the company, and your ability to deliver just as well as anyone else regardless of gender.