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5 Habits That Can Derail Women in Male Dominated Industries

June 3, 2016

Your thoughts are dominated by the fact that you are the only woman in the room.

If your gender is your biggest concern you shouldn’t be in the room.  You are there because you add value, you have skills, you have something to share.  In reality you are the person most likely putting the spotlight on yourself and by doing so you lose effectiveness.  Its ok to recognize you are the minority in the room however you can’t use that as a crutch and you can’t let it debilitate you. To be effective you need to work on communication techniques that help you navigate the room successfully, but shouldn’t you do that with all audiences not just male dominated ones?  Aren’t you the most effective when you know the concerns and characteristics of your environment and audience?  Concentrate on your value, know your audience and act accordingly.

You think you have to speak up often in order to assert your authority.

Successful Leaders listen, period.  Sometimes it is difficult to get a word in edgewise especially in a room full of men.  Men communicate differently and in some cases it can feel like they dismiss our ideas or input and in fact sometimes it may be a conscience dismissal. However that is a tactic employed by individuals not exclusively by men.  Most people have watched a person in a group pontificating or pointing out the obvious while everyone else tunes out or rolls their eyes.  If you speak just to speak, the audience will be rolling their eyes at you but if you speak when you have something to contribute you will be known for adding value, despite the gender composition of the room.

 You constantly have to sacrifice because if you ask to do things differently it will hurt your career.

You are no longer alone, Millennials are your new best friends. They don’t think twice about asking employers to accommodate their lifestyle and they are in high demand. The Human Resource industry is obsessed with how to recruit and retain them. Follow the millennials lead, know your value and tell your employer your ideas about the best way to deliver that value. Have an open conversation about what motivates you and how you can deliver the best results. The conversation should demonstrate how given the right work environment you can contribute more to the bottom line.

You have to master your current job or have every single qualification needed to apply for a new position.

Women liked to be liked. We don’t like rejection and we often don’t lead with our strengths but there is a way to turn that around. First you have to conduct a grown up conversation with yourself. You need to tell the inner voice that feeds your paranoia that it is ok to take chances, its ok if it doesn’t work out every time and its ok to try again. Second, you have to spend some time really understanding what your strengths are versus what you want them to be. There are many tools to help you figure out what you are really good at but the best one I have found is honest dialog with friends and colleagues asking for unvarnished feedback.

You attribute your success to the fact that you are a woman versus a skilled, competent Leader.

We have all heard about “imposter syndrome” but I believe there is a deeper issues especially with female Gen X’ers. We question ourselves about how we got to where we are. We ask ourselves if we checked a box for the corporation just because we are female. In some cases we may have had people come right out as say that to us. Have you considered that maybe a company’s search for a specific gender was a proactive tactic to encourage diversity of thought? Since you walked in the door you earned everything.   If you feel that you are there simply because you checked a diversity box for the company you need to work somewhere else. In well run companies it’s not about diversity of gender but about diversity of thought, new points of view from people who have had different life experiences which lead the company to innovate. You have earned your place, once you admit that to yourself you will confidently sail on to bigger and better journey’s.

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