Countless women are broadening their horizons and heading into career fields that were previously dominated by men.
Today’s women are paving the way for future generations by choosing to work in the construction, mining, forestry, manufacturing and automotive industries. There are now female auto mechanics, brick layers, pipe fitters, and industrial welders working all over the world.
What would have been a rarity twenty years ago is slowly becoming the norm.
Unfortunately, not all women are being welcomed into these fields. There are some men who fear their workplace will be overtaken by women, so they make it more difficult for a woman pursuing a traditionally-male career.
They don’t think women have the physical strength or mechanical know how to be as valuable as a man in the same role. It becomes increasingly challenging if the woman attempts to climb the ranks and become a leader in a traditionally male environment.
Never let the worry of intimidating a man, or the fear of a challenge, stop you from pursuing the career you want. As a woman who has survived and thrived in male dominated industries, I have some advice to make it easier to take charge in a man’s world without compromising your standards or self-respect.
Prove Your Abilities First!
If you’ve landed a position in a male-dominated industry, you should obviously have the skills and physical capabilities to be successful.
If someone questions your ability to handle the work, prove them wrong with a smile. Don’t argue or act offended, just prove what you can do and let your work speak for itself.
Insist on Respect!
If you tolerate disrespect in a male-dominated industry, it will only get worse.
If a male co-worker or manager says something demeaning or sexist, it is critical that you speak up immediately. Explain why the comment is inappropriate and calmly ask the person not to talk to you that way again.
If it continues, escalate the issue to someone with more authority.
Insist on Equality!
Never ask for special treatment. If you’re attempting to work in a “man’s world”, you must be able to do everything a man can do.
Fortunately, equality works both ways. If you’re just as qualified and can do the same work as a male employee, you should insist on the same pay.
Control Your Emotions!
Ordinarily, I would never tell a woman to keep her emotions under control. It’s not something women want to hear, but it’s true in this case.
You shouldn’t breakdown in tears or have a tantrum when you’re the only female employee surrounded by men. It makes men uncomfortable and can be interpreted as emotional instability.
Be Firm, but Fair!
No one likes being told what to do and some men struggle to take directions from women, especially in industries that are typically run by men.
Be reasonable, polite and confident with your requests and decisions. If you’re being reasonable and the man gives you a hard time, stick to your guns.
Women are breaking through the glass ceiling and expanding into new career fields all the time. If you want a career in a field that is dominant by men, you should go for it!
Just remember that your success will be based on your ability to perform to the same level as a man.
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By Jenn Sadai