Ways Women Can Thrive In A Male-Dominated Workplace

Ways Women Can Thrive In A Male-Dominated Workplace

From established engineering firms to the latest tech startups, men continue to outnumber women in certain industries. But, just because you’re outnumbered by your male counterparts doesn’t mean you can’t climb the corporate ladder.

Adopting some of the strategies men use to advance their careers could help level the playing field. Here are seven ways woman can thrive in a male-dominated workplace:

1. Challenge Traditional Gender Roles

Many of the advantages men seem to gain in business stem from their behavioral choices, not their gender. A study by Stanford’s Business School discovered that women who exhibited “masculine traits,” such as aggressiveness and confidence, and were able to self-monitor their behavior, received 1.5 more promotions than men exhibiting similar qualities.

Challenging traditional gender roles doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your values, reinvent your personality, or dress in masculine suits. Instead, you can choose to make small changes—like asking for a raise. Research by Accenture ACN +0.87% found that only 45% of women are willing to ask for a raise, compared to 61% of men, which may explain much of the salary differences between males and females

2. Speak Up In Meetings

According to a 2014 study published in Harvard Business Review, women are much less likely than men to speak up in meetings. The same study found that when women did speak up, they apologized repeatedly and allowed themselves to be interrupted.

If you don’t believe you have anything worth saying, why would others have confidence in you? Recognize the value of your opinion. When you begin to believe what you have to share is worth listening to, others will want to hear more.

3. Use Direct Communication

Women are more likely to add qualifiers like, “I’m not sure if everyone will agree with this or not, but…” or apologies such as, “I hate to ask you to do this, but…” The apologetic and uncertain tone often comes across as insecure or powerless.

If your communication style appears a bit wimpy, practice being assertive. That doesn’t mean you have to rude or hostile. Simply drop the apologies and qualifiers when you speak and others will see you as more authoritative.

4. Accept Credit For Your Work

Many women struggle to acknowledge a job well done. For example, a woman may respond to a compliment by saying things like, “Oh I was just lucky that time.” If you were the boss, would you promote someone who insists her success is happenstance?

Women also tend to credit others at their own expense. A female leader may say her assistant is really the one who did everything or she may remind people that she really had nothing to do with getting the project done on time. While it’s important to acknowledge everyone’s accomplishments, refusing to accept responsibility for the positive role you played won’t inspire confidence in your abilities.

5. Examine Your Beliefs About Women In The Workplace

If you think women are less apt to be successful in business, your belief may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your communication style, business decisions, and your non-verbal gestures will scream, “I’m not good enough,” or “I don’t stand a chance.”

Whether you’re wearing a dress or a suit matters far less than the vibe you give off wearing those clothes. If you believe you can rise to the top on your own merit, you’ll be much more likely to stand out from the crowd for the right reasons.

6. Be Willing To Network

Don’t waste time and energy complaining about the way men network. If they choose to engage in activities outside the office, you have a choice in whether you join in or not. But remember, it’s unlikely that all the men attending actually enjoy watching football or playing golf any more than you do. Instead, some of them are likely joining in simply because they want to advance their careers.

Perhaps you’d rather spend time with your family after work or on the weekends. If that’s most important to you, skip the unofficial company bonding adventures. But if you really want to advance in your career, networking and closing business deals outside the office may be an expectation.

7. Look For Explanations, Not Excuses

Most importantly, avoid blaming men for any lack of success you experience. That’s not to say you might not face certain challenges your male counterparts won’t encounter. Men will never deal with morning sickness and they’re less likely to experience problems like sexual harassment.

While there’s no denying that the struggle is real—studies consistently show women leaders experience bias—hosting a pity party won’t help. Every minute you spend making excuses is precious time that could have been spent advancing your career. Stay focused on solutions and keep working hard to reach your greatest potential.

By, Amy Morin. The psychotherapist, speaker, and author of the bestselling book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.

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