How Women Can Get Ahead in a Male-Dominated Industry

If you could rewind the clock to the past two decades, it was a challenging time for women working in all industries. In the 21st century, the opportunities in the workplace are endless. At the same time, some industries are predominantly male-driven which includes technology or oil and gas. In these sectors, women have the chance to get ahead in leadership roles. However, long conversations with colleagues, friends or seasoned female professionals has helped women survive in a male dominated organization. The development of leadership and integrity is essential for one to move up the corporate ladder when faced with challenges along the way.

I once worked in the oil and gas industry in the business development department of a reputable company. It was an office with mainly men, and at the time I thought my experience was a pre-requisite for instant success. At times, being a woman was beneficial, and on other days, it meant that I had to prove myself more often than I expected.

Whether you are a new or seasoned professional as one of the few women at your company, here are helpful tips to help you throughout your journey.

Be Yourself

When you think about a successful woman in a male-dominated organization, a misconception is she must be a different version of herself. The idea that a woman can’t succeed unless she is aggressive is the opposite personality trait to have to be respected as a leader. Business Insider published a controversial blog that women have innate personality traits that help them to be effective leaders.  As women, we naturally are nurturers with the motherly instinct to lead a team. It means the ability to motivate, consider peoples feelings and build relationships offers you an advantage over your colleagues.

Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

According to an Zety blog, “Women make up 55% of workers holding jobs requiring social skills.” If your team invites you out for drinks or a golf match, gladly accept the invitation. You don’t need to be considered “one of the guys,” but the fact that you accept will help you appear to be a team player.

Stay on Top of Departmental Expenses

In the corporate world, female leaders in directorial and management positions need to pay close attention to money management while working on projects. A leader that overspends an allowable budget on event planning or purchasing equipment for their team can lose credibility in the eyes of executives.

As a woman, it is unfortunate that being responsible for all aspects of your career to avoid being denounced for an opportunity when compared to male counterparts is a part of survival. If you need help improving your skills while working with a competitive team, we recommend you invest in career development or education to be the best professional you can be.

Learn How to Say No

In all workplaces, people tend to label the weakest link on the team as the introvert and in some cases, a woman. It means menial or administrative assignments that aren’t a part of a woman’s responsibilities can be assigned to her because of biases. It can include being asked to buy the team coffee every day, cleaning the office or being a minute taker at meetings. As an employee, you have the right to say “No” if you have the experience to lead meetings or delegate tasks to your male counterparts.

Find a Sponsor

A Harvard Business Review article stated, “A sponsor confers a statistical career benefit of anything from 22 to 30%, depending on what’s being requested (assignment or pay raise) and who’s asking (men or women).”

If you have one woman in your organization you can confide in that works in the C-suite or a management position, this person can act as your sponsor. When a promotion is overdue, your mentor can speak on your behalf to the key players in the company to help you move up the corporate ladder. You can expect to be of value to this person by offering your talents to assist them in the future. The idea is to put yourself able to be open to networking with people that can help you succeed.

Final Thoughts

You hold power to be the professional you want to become despite the environment at work. It is a fact that women experience differences in income, pay raises and benefits in comparison to their male counterparts. However, it is not a reason to be a shining star in your organization. Now is the time to search within yourself to find your core strengths and weaknesses because both can help you to work harmoniously if you are one of the few women in your department. Embrace the true essence of who you are, and others will accept you as you are.