How To Succeed As A Woman In A Male-Dominated Industry
While things are getting better, there are still some careers and industries that are dominated by men, and it can be hard to fit into these as a woman. Whether you’re starting your own business in an industry like construction, finance, or trucking, or working at a company with mostly men, it can be tough, and people aren’t always welcoming. In a lot of industries, there is still a strong bias towards men and the male way of doing things.
Developing a few traits and habits can be very helpful to make your way in the working world as a woman in a male-dominated industry.
Learn to be assertive at work. It can be hard to make yourself heard as a woman in a male-dominated industry, even when you own the business! To do it, you need to learn not to let other people speak over you or interrupt you. That doesn’t mean that you need to be rude or interrupt yourself, but it does sometimes mean insisting on having your say. It can help to build your own knowledge, so you have confidence in what you’re saying. This might mean taking a training course, spending time on the building site yourself to understand the different jobs, deciding to purchase International Truck service manuals to get familiar with the proper operation and maintenance for your logistics company vehicles, or finding a mentor in your industry.
Nothing can generate goodwill or build morale as successfully among employees as a positive attitude. Think about your past victories, not your defeats, and focus on the milestones that you are set to achieve in the future.
Be An Aggressive Life-Long Learner
Keep on top of the news in your industry every day. Take advantage of things like relevant seminars and continuing education classes that you can. Stay on your toes and make sure you stay informed. Staying informed will make you more confident and make sure you are a valuable resource to your staff.
Care About Being Respected More Than Being Liked
If you find yourself always saying sorry at work, try to get rid of it from your vocabulary. You don’t have to be a pleaser in your career. A lot of people find that always saying sorry, especially when you’re not actually at fault, can undermine your ability to communicate with others. Some people think it’s better not to say it at all. If you’re always trying to please others, you’re more likely to be walked over than appreciated. You want people to respect you. Being liked is just a bonus.
This can be a tough line to walk as a boss. Many entrepreneurs struggle to give responsibility to others and often worry more about whether the team they have built up for their business likes them than whether or not they’re a good leader. Try to remember that as a company owner, your job is not to be a friend to your employees. You’re in charge, and they need to trust and respect you. If they like you as well, great, but if they don’t, it’s doesn’t really matter.
Learn How To Handle Conflict
This doesn’t mean you need to be combative or always looking to avoid conflict. When a conflict does arise, try to be positive and look forward. How can you move past the conflict? Never attack someone personally, and don’t allow anyone to attack you either. Stay focused on the issue at hand. Be careful not to talk to your staff or send emails when you’re angry, or read emotion or tone into emails where there isn’t any. Let go of any grudges you’ve been carrying around.
Get Active In Woman’s Associations
There are lots of fantastic opportunities out there to meet other women in your industry. Take advantage of these opportunities to build camaraderie, find mentors, and network with other women in your industry. You can go to more general events, or join specific associations for your industry, such as the Association For Women In Science. Look for these options and take advantage of them. It can be helpful to know people who understand your struggles, can provide advice, and be useful links for you as your business moves forward.
Support Other Women
Be ethical. This one might sound obvious, as we’ve all been taught some variation of this rule as children, whether it’s by putting out good vibes into the world or generating good karma, but it’s not uncommon for this rule to be ignored or forgotten. It’s discouraging to learn that women often tend to be harder on other women leaders in their industry than they are on male leaders, perhaps due to a sense of competition. Many women say they prefer a male boss. Remember, it’s not weak to be kind or agreeable. Women who treat others fairly will be happier and more productive employees or leaders.
Remember Why You Struck Out On Your Own
It takes a certain amount of confidence and communication to be able to speak to investors, shareholders, and other leaders in your industry. It might help your confidence to have relevant qualifications, but it is a great time to be a women entrepreneur. Top companies are still largely owned by men, but more and more women are becoming business owners. Remember why you decided to start a business in the first place, and remember that you already have the tools to succeed.
The last few generations have been able to bring more women into the workforce and into leadership roles across many industries. We’ve come a long way, but there is still a long way to go.
Working to bring other women into leadership positions in your business is an important way to make the changes that we need to open up opportunities for others. Its also true that most critical change starts with shaping ourselves, the area where we have the most control. Cultivating the characteristics in this article should help you.
A couple of years ago, I was hired on as the Marketing Director at Heart of Business. It didn't last long, and yet a whole bunch of great learning came out of it (for all of us!). Mark Silver, the founder, and I developed a stronger friendship and keep respect for what we each bring […]
[Editor's note: This is part five in a series of year-end posts I write to focus my efforts for the new year. Here are links to parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.] Brave. That was the theme for 2012, and as I look back, I can say I'm pretty happy with where things ended up. […]