How Women Can Succeed in Male-Dominated Fields
By Rebecca Jazelle
Society has come a long way from when women were discouraged, and even banned, from entering the workforce. Business News Daily suggests that gendered jobs are declining, as nearly 23% of jobs in male-dominated positions between 2009 and 2017 were filled by women. This includes occupations such as CEOs, web developers, chemists, and producers. However, gender stereotypes in the workforce still remain. BND cites a 2017 study from the American Sociological Review that concluded that people perceive professions that are coded as “men's” jobs as more credible than professions coded as “women's” jobs. These jobs include jobs in fields such as STEM, finance, and business. Women have to work harder to establish their credibility in order to pursue roles in these male-dominated fields. Fortunately, we've put together a guide that can help women work harder and smarter in order to succeed. Let’s take a look below at the steps that women in male-dominated fields can take for success.
Joining Associations and Communities
Organizations that value female camaraderie can widen your professional, educational, and business development opportunities. These groups can be based on gender, ethnicity, or race. For example, membership-based platform nFormation helps women of color connect through a variety of training sessions, curated events, and leadership opportunities. This helps them establish their position within the business world, as well as carve a path for younger professionals. These groups can also be industry-specific, like the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) and The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). A membership at the NAWIC can provide a woman in construction with specific career postings, access to speakers and seminars at national and regional events, and even advertising opportunities for their small businesses.
Qualifying for Grants and Fellowships
The NAWIC also offers scholarships through The NAWIC Founders' Scholarship Foundation (NFSF) so that more women can achieve higher levels of education. This allows women to later qualify for higher-paying roles. Maryville University shares that women in mathematics can also pursue scholarships, grants, and fellowships from established societies like the American Mathematical Society for assistance. The American Association of University Women fellowships offers research publication grants in amounts ranging from $10,000 to $35,000. On the other hand, the Joan and Joseph Birman Fellowship for Women Scholars can offer up to $50,000. These grants help compensate for women’s lower wages and can serve as funding to jumpstart research. Qualifying for these prestigious offers also puts women in contact with leaders within the industry. These connections and opportunities help prove women's capacities at work, which could eventually lead to employers and clients trusting more women with big projects and managerial positions.
Finding a Mentor
Many assume that mentors only act as incidental guides to help newcomers navigate their workplaces. However, Nilanjana Dasgupta from the University of Massachusetts Amherst did a study on mentorship among women in the sciences and found that women’s drive for success increases if their mentor is the same gender and close to them in age. This is because a mentor with similar characteristics can help a mentee feel like success is more attainable. Mentorship thus becomes a source of emotional strength that helps women persevere in male-dominated industries. That doesn’t mean that women should always shy away from male mentors, however. Reshma Jagsi from the University of Michigan explains that male mentorship allows both parties to learn more about the power-based differentials in science, and that male mentors can still provide female mentees with excellent support.
Attending Seminars and Meetings
It is easy for women to be overlooked in male-dominated fields. To help establish their presence, women can take an active role in networking and learning opportunities like seminars and meetings. As we’ve previously discussed in Plan Your Career Growth and Development, show up and show out. Dress a step above the rest and speak with confidence during these sessions. This establishes the significance of your involvement and your value as a member of the team. Furthermore, always say ‘yes’ to every learning opportunity. It’s important that there is no reason to doubt your capacity. Attending prestigious conferences like the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world's largest mobile technology conference, can give a competitive advantage to women in tech by helping them stay on top of the latest trends. MWC 2023 in February will very likely help women attendees learn more about innovations in the industry and help them become valuable resources for their companies.
Earning and Prioritizing Respect
The tips above help women earn respect through their work performance. However, it is critical that women simultaneously prioritize the value of their work alongside the value of being well-liked. In this way, women can learn to develop and convey confidence in their abilities. This self-assurance helps to prevent women from becoming exploited for their hard work. Juris Doctor graduate Katherine Tucci discusses confidence and how her mentors at law school taught her to stop using hedges or qualifiers that may undermine her input. Exhibiting confident body language like firm handshakes, neutral facial expressions, and even relaxed postures can all help underline the message that you're a team player, but at the same time emphasizing that you shouldn't be underestimated just because of your gender. Willingly entering environments as the minority takes strength and courage. With our tips, women can channel their innate value and thrive in male-dominated fields. This will pave the way for more working women in the future. Specially written for GETPHOENIX.ORG
By: Rebecca Jazelle
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Jazelle is a freelance business blogger who writes about topics close to her heart. As a working mother of two daughters, she has a particular interest in empowering women to succeed in their careers. When she's not working, Rebecca Jazelle enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with her family.