While “male-dominated” usually refers to specific industries — construction, auto mechanics, technology — “man’s world” is more pervasive. It is an ideology woven throughout societal norms and practices, often so established that we rarely recognize it immediately.
In the business world, the statistics are alarming in their bias. Globally, women are still paid only 75% as much as men with the same level of education and occupation. They also hold only 5% of Fortune 500 CEO positions and 24% of senior management positions worldwide.
Consider also these facts:
- 100% of CEO’s of Wall St. firms
- 97% of heads of venture capital firms
- 85% of corporate executive officers
So how does a woman conquer the traditional man’s world? How does she climb the ladder of her own choosing without being viewed as “a woman in a man’s world”?
Here are some actions you can take to both level the playing field…and actually rise above it. After all, your success is about you, not you-compared-to-a-man.
- Focus on things within your control. Make your personal ethics and integrity the backbone of everything you say and do. Be constructive in voicing your opinions, and stand firm in your convictions. You never have control over what someone else thinks, says, or does…but you always have control over your response.
- Be authentic. Corny as it may sound, the universe is attracted to authenticity. People who are genuine are easy to track because their choices always reflect their values. They are also self-aware and always striving to improve.
- Display confidence. Let’s face it, the workplace can be a breeding ground for negativity, gossip and jealousy. Add a woman trying to conquer the traditional man’s world, and it can be almost hostile. Learn to block out negativity from others around you, and let your confidence and integrity be your response.
- Take criticism well.We all love the positive strokes and glowing reviews. But negative feedback holds the opportunity for improvement. And improvement holds the opportunity for advancement.
- Invest in building relationships. Build a network of support…and use it. Find a supportive boss who will see your skill and talent and value you in the workplace. Reach out to everyone in the workplace and build on your commonalities. Utilize support outside the workplace, too — family, neighbors, alumni groups, social media. It takes a village, and you have to build it.
- Believe in yourself. If you don’t, no one else will. Boost your belief with daily affirmations. What you say to yourself can be life-changing.
- Don’t internalize problems. Learn to separate from the issue and focus on the real problem. Taking things personally will only distract you from the job at hand.
- Communicate your career aspirations to your manager or higher-up. Career conversations are an important part of employee engagement with bosses. By discussing your aspirations, you can solicit your boss’s help in planning how to achieve them.
- Know your value and own it. Utilize the resources at your disposal — career guides, professional associations, performance reviews, etc. Compare your skills and performance to top performers. Attain additional skills if necessary. And carry that value with you when you discuss advancement with your superior.
- Be a role model for new talent. Breaking down barriers to the advancement of women in their chosen fields depends on the mentorship of those doing it. And there is nothing like being a role model to keep your own success on track.
History is full of people who have blazed trails and shattered ceilings. Those just entering the workforce may have no notion of a time when women rarely worked outside the home. Many forget there was a time when women were denied the right to vote.
But every lasting advancement has been made because someone has stood on the conviction of what was right and good. And we will advance again when both women and men say, “This isn’t a ‘man’s world,’ this is our world.”
If you find you’re having difficulties conquering the man’s world you find yourself in, reach out to me now. I’m looking forward to serving you on your path to professional success.