Navigating in Male-Dominated Industries: Woman’s Guide

6 minutes

Imagine the Mona Lisa coming alive from her painting as soon as Da Vinci finishes her portrait. She ventures into the streets of France, exploring its amazing architecture and developing a deep interest in sculpting. She gets the training from the best of the best, is good with her hands, steady and elegant. She ends up making many good sculptures while she’s learning. She’s a competent sculptor now, and it’s time to look for a job. She searches day and night to find a job in the field but gets rejected everywhere. Not because she is incompetent, but because she is a woman, and sculpting is a male-dominated industry. 

Fast forward to 2023. Imagine Mona Lisa, strolling down the streets of France, looking for a job in sculpting. Would she be dismissed right away? No. After assessing her competencies, she would be given a job. Although sculpting has largely been a male-dominated industry, Mona Lisa wouldn’t face injustice in procuring the job. However, her journey has just begun. Now, she needs to navigate being a woman in a hugely male-dominated sector. 

What does Mona Lisa or any woman who finds herself in this situation need to do? Read on…

With time, comes change. Previously, people wouldn’t have imagined women working at a place where the number of male employees is overwhelmingly more. Now, women not only successfully establish themselves in a male-dominated industry, but they rise in ranks, showing that their efficiency is unmatchable. 

People often comment about the world being a ‘man’s world’. They talk about the way humanity has functioned while almost trying to keep one gender in the shadows and the other in the spotlight. While it was true a few years back, we have progressed to become much more inclusive than we were before. Men occupy a majority of the seats in almost every industry. But lately, we can witness women slowly reclaiming their power, venturing into many industries, and leaving their mark. 

Historical data suggests that men held many of the jobs in technical roles in the STEM sector. However, the data from 2022, points a steady progress in female representation in traditionally male-dominated fields. While the progress is slow, it is there. 

However, it is not as easy as it looks. Being a woman in a male-dominated industry and navigating its complexities demands courage, persistence, and a commitment to breaking barriers. But there are more subtle tactics that you, as a woman can imbibe to excel in an environment dominated by men. 

Here are some of the strategies women can follow to thrive in a male-dominated industry:

Look at the brighter side

The Indian Government has released schemes like the Vigyan Jyoti Scheme to help girls pursue STEM in higher education and offers exposure to women from rural areas. Improvements and initiatives are being made every day. Things are looking positive for women who want to make it big in male-dominated fields. So, recognize the challenges but stay positive. Empower yourself through knowledge. Being well-informed about the industry concepts will boost your confidence and help you establish yourself as a competent professional. You can accomplish this by continuously asking questions, paying attention to details, and staying informed about industry trends. 

Be a part of women’s support groups

Women uplift women. If you are the only woman at your company or one of the few women spread through various departments, then, it’s important to find a strong group of women who can support you. Women support groups can aid you in planning, negotiating your goals, and giving you a safe space to release frustrations. If the group isn’t already there, you can make one yourself. If there’s already one available, try to proactively be a part of it. Being around brilliant women helps you learn! 

Seek out men who can be great allies

Look for men within your organisation who are willing to dismantle the systemic barriers. Men who are allies usually demonstrate these behaviors consistently: actively listening to your opinions, raising their voices against gender biases, complimenting your work without any ulterior motives, and advocating for equal pay. Seek out these supportive men. They can aid you in navigating the situation better. 

Try to reframe the situation

Studies reveal that women are 2.5% more likely to get feedback as being too assertive in their communication style. While subtle biases can manifest themselves in these ways, it is important to remember that you can only control what you do. Whenever you receive negative feedback, give yourself ample time to think and stay rational, think about what went wrong, and try to improve. 

Final Thoughts

Women today have good access to resources and are aware of their rights and the type of strategies to imbibe when working in a predominantly male-dominated industry. Take it one day at a time, and remind yourself every day while going to work that you are amazing at what you do. Let no one tell you otherwise. Utilise your strengths and overcome your weaknesses. The men in your workplace can even be more open-minded and supportive than you think. Reach out, talk, and mutually work together to make the organisation a better place. 

Our Mona Lisa is thriving at the moment, working with an amazing bunch of people, and honing her sculpting skills to make beautiful sculptures. Even though she is one of the few women there, she’s utilising these strategies to become the best version of herself! And you can too! 

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