Working with mostly men in a male-dominated job or industry? You got this! Don't let the fact that you have little to no female peers (or women to look up to!) deter you from cultivating a successful career.
Of course, it's no secret that, when women work together, they succeed together. A wealth of research shows that women lift each other up in the workplace. Women advocate for one another, inspire each other and lean on each other for support. Having women in the workplace can make a positive impact.
Unfortunately, there are still many industries that are heavily male-dominated. Read: science, math, engineering, technology...
So, how do you succeed in a male-dominated workplace? Let's dive in.
Here are five ways to excel in a workplace that's dominated by men.
How do you get a man to respect you? Respect yourself first! When you're interviewing for a job in a male-dominated workplace, demand what you deserve. Go in there knowing the market median salary. Ask for at least that and plan to negotiate until you're comfortable. This doesn't only include fair pay, but it also involves your benefits, too! Benefits, after all, can save you a ton of money! Think about it: Your health benefits, gym memberships, daycare coverage, etc. will all help to save you a pretty penny — but you may need to negotiate these benefits, too.
It's not uncommon for women to go into performance reviews and walk out of them feeling confused and conflicted. Studies show that performance reviews tend to be sexist, as managers don't always give female employees the constructive feedback that they need to improve and advance. Instead, women too often hear feedback about their soft skills like they're "very likeable" or "kind of pushy," etc. This is not the kind of feedback that's going to help you to do your job.
That's exactly why you need your job description in writing. You need to know exactly what's expected of you so that, when you go into a performance review in your male-dominated workplace, you can go over your written description and talk about the points spelled out on there. If there are numbers or specific goals written out, that's even better — you can compare your work against those numbers and goals! Having hard facts will help you to receive the feedback you need to improve and it'll help your manager to see how well you're actually doing!
Women too often worry about being likable in the workplace because, if you're considered too bossy (which is a common word thrown around to describe women in the workplace!) or give off another negative impression, science suggest that there are indeed serious social penalizations. While this can hurt your career, you have to focus on your job at hand. You need to prove your value by going to work every single day to do what you've gone there to do: your job. Do your job well, be cordial and collaborative, and no one can complain.
Don't sweat the small stuff, even if society tells you to. It's not worth your energy, and you don't want to burn yourself out worrying about everyone else at the office instead of focusing on you.
A manterrupter is a man who talks over you and interrupts you while you're speaking. This, unfortunately, happens to some women a lot. If it happens to you while at work at your male-dominated job, you'll want to make sure you interrupt the manterrupter, so that this person becomes aware that their behavior will not be tolerated. If you can set the precedent that you will not be interrupted while speaking and that your voice matters, too, hopefully you'll experience less manterruptions.
That said, it this kind of behavior continues to happen, you might need to have a conversation with your human resources department.
Likewise, you'll need to put mansplainers in their place. While the burden shouldn't be on you to combat this kind of sexism (people just shouldn't be sexist in the first place!), stopping mansplaining in its tracks can help you in the longrun.
A mansplainer is a man who explains a concept to a woman in a specifically condescending way.
"Mansplaining is, at its core, a very specific thing — it's what occurs when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he's talking to does," according to the Merriam Webster dictionary.
Mansplaining is harmful for a a whole host of reasons. When a man mansplains to a woman, he may assume that the woman is incompetent, thus perpetuating unfounded gender stereotypes that keep women one step behind in the workplace at all times. Likewise, when a man mansplains to a woman, he is condescending her, which shows a lack of respect for her that, of course, doesn't help women to gain equal access to the same opportunities or be taken seriously in the workplace.
By stopping a mansplainer and reminding them of your experiences, skills and knowledge, you let them know that this kind of toxic behevaior is not welcome. Hopefully, after stopping them the first time, they won't do it again. That said, it this kind of behavior continues to happen, again, you might need to have a conversation with your human resources department.
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