Making an Impact in a Male Dominated Industry—Tips for Motivated Women
It’s surely an exciting time to be a woman! More and more glass ceilings are being broken and though there’s a lot still to be done, especially in some countries, women are getting the chance to show off in multiple industries. But what does it take to ‘make it’?
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Talking to experts, a huge part of self-management in these situations is to maintain confidence in yourself and your abilities. From looking the part by wearing the right business shirts for women, to reminding yourself about your value, you can keep the right mindset so you’re ready for whatever comes your way.
One can debate about whether the road to success is fair, but at least more doors are opening ladies! Want to be prepared for your road ahead? Here’s a checklist of things to remember.
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Forget Physical Strength—Get the Skills!
Here’s the first thing you should manage in your mindset: it’s not all about physical strength. Unfortunately, in many industries there’s a misconception that you need men’s advantage of having more physical strength in order to perform well. But often, all you need is to be able to operate the equipment that’s relevant to the industry.
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Driving and working a forklift is an excellent example. Modern machinery does much of the hard work for us, so be bold in choosing industries you want to be part of, even if people think you’re daft.
One way to get yourself a fighting chance is to look for work that will give you the necessary experience your male colleagues already have. Bit by bit your resume will be proof of how you’ve accomplished the same as the men. And then no one can tell you can’t.
Manage Your Self Belief
What you need to be prepared for is that you’ll have to be your own biggest cheerleader. Very rarely will you get external validation, so it’s up to you to keep boosting your self-confidence. There are practical ways to maintain this:
- Dress the part by investing in clothes that are comfortable to work in but help you feel your best. Boosting your self-confidence this way will help you walk in the office door with certainty each morning, showing male role players that you’re a force to be reckoned with.
- Write down all your skills so you can look at it when you do doubt yourself. You may have to remind yourself of what you bring to the table so you can keep acting with confidence even if someone else questions your ability.
- You may realise you have impostor syndrome and when you identify this, talk to a professional or a mentor to get past this hurdle.
- Stress, anxiety, emotions and nerves can make it difficult to focus, so find ways to manage these. Do you need to talk to a professional, use medication to carry you through particularly stressful times or pour that stress into a new exercise routine?
Show the Benefit of Diversity and a Fresh Perspective
One way to get to the top is to get noticed. How do you do that while working with people—mostly men—that are as accomplished as you are?
Here you have the benefit that many industries are trying to accommodate diversity. Use it to your advantage, asking that you be included in more activities, seminars or discussions. And when you do have an opinion, share it! Especially if it’s different than the rest of the rooms. Your fresh perspective based on your unique experiences may be what gives your employer the edge in a competitive market.
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Make Sure You Network
Unfortunately, women in male dominated industries may see no other women for most of their days. This puts you at risk of feeling isolated, which can lead to anxiety. It’s your responsibility to manage this situation. Practical solutions include:
- Networking with others in your industry by joining forums, connecting online or attending events like workshops.
- Connect with someone who has qualities you can learn from and ask him or her to be your mentor. You can even ask a business coach to serve in this role. By having a safe place to soundboard, you can deal with negative though patterns and maintain a healthy mindset about your work, even if you feel alone at your place of work.
Empower Others—Other Women that is!
Now, your responsibility doesn’t stop once you have your foot in the door. Many other women want to do what you’ve done. So, look for others to help and become their mentor. Seeing others succeed will also go a long way in managing your own confidence and belief that women really can make a difference in the industry you love.
All through history women have proved how they can be an asset in most industries. And now it’s your chance to carry this torch forward. Remember to network with other women around you and if you have any tips for ladies that want to follow in your footsteps, please share with us below.