As a female, the reality is you will be a part of a small percentage in high-level positions, especially in technology and engineering industries. In fact, per the Center of American Progress, only 10% of executive roles are held by women in those industries, which means the rest are men.
So how do you show the world that you really know what you’re talking about, without losing your femininity? Here are some tips:
- Start off STRONG
Right away. Relationships are key to a great career - and life. Begin day one with building good relationships with leaders, regardless of their gender. Don’t know where to start? Begin with congratulating them on a recent achievement - a sale won; a presentation they gave; an interest you share or company initiative they’re passionate about.
- Make your presence known by appearing 100% confident (even when you aren’t!)
Never be afraid to stand up and make yourself known. Speak with intelligence and convey confidence, while also taking the time to listen to every person you meet. One way to do this is to stand tall. Walk with a purpose. You will effectively command and earn the respect of both your male and female peers.
- Find a Way to Relate to Others
Females tend to have more nurturing traits built into them - use it to your advantage! Find a way to connect with others when building relationships. When you relate to others, the other party usually lets down their guard and trust you more.
- Get a Mentor and Be a Mentor to Others
And that mentor doesn’t have to be someone of the same gender! Some of the best mentors have been men seeing a woman’s talent matched with tenacity and wanting to assist in helping them shine. Look for people who inspire you. Other leaders who challenge you constructively. And like it or not, it can be nearly impossible to advance as a woman in a male-dominated workplace without a mentor. Then, find others you can be an inspiration to as well. It’s all about serving.
- Last, Don’t Act as an Assistant
How many successful men do you see picking up their boss’s lunch or coffee? If you’re not someone’s assistant, do not get in the habit of acting like one. As women, it’s easy to want to serve, and there are always exceptions, right? Yes, but don’t get in the habit of getting everyone’s morning coffee...especially if male counterparts aren’t doing it.
I’ve been there most of my career - one of the only females in leadership within engineering, manufacturing, operations, machining and construction. It’s challenging for sure. But following these tips that I picked up along the way, will help you to gain more respect and propel you forward to assist in growing organizations. Companies need male and female perspectives and ideas.