13 Success Tips For Women In Male-Dominated Industries

Photo by Drop the Label Movement on Unsplash

Anyone that tells you that being a woman in a male-dominated industry is easy, is lying. There are countless studies showing how hard it is for women to excel in these industries. However, that doesn’t mean it is impossible.

As a man working in media, I am very unqualified to make these recommendations, luckily for you, I am not. There are people much smarter than I out there, and here is what they had to say about how to get ahead as a woman in a male-dominated industry.

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#1 Support Other Women in Law

It is absolutely no secret that law is a male-dominated industry. In fact, federal judges have recently published articles urging the legal industry to provide a more visible and substantive role for female lawyers.  As female attorneys, we need to recognize and celebrate diversity within the practice.

If you are a partner, offer to mentor a female associate within the firm and allow them to take a more active role in litigation. Don't simply relegate them to a briefing assignment. Considering that recent studies have found women to be more effective lawyers than their male counterparts, this benefits the client, the firm, and the career of the female associate.

If you are in-house counsel, seek out firms with a diverse workforce who place their top female partners at the forefront of litigation and allow their female associates to argue in court. By supporting women within the industry, we may see a reduction in the mass exodus of women choosing to leave the practice of law.

Contributions: Chelsie Spencer from Ritter Spencer PLLC 

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  1. great information!! Always good to hear successful female professionals supporting others. I would use Ritter Spencer law firm based on this information.

#2 Body Language

Women in male-dominated industries should take on a bit more masculine body language beyond the usual tips of taking a wider stance and being more forceful with their gestures. Women should adapt their subconscious behavior in ways they wouldn’t think.

Males tend to spread out and take up more space when retreating or reclining. Think of the image of the alpha male executive with his hands behind his head, leaning back and feet up on the desk. Men also narrow when they come forward toward someone in a meeting. Especially if they are pointing or gesturing. Women tend to do the opposite. Females narrow when retreating or reclining in a chair to be more demure or protective of their chest and heart.

Women spread out when moving or leaning forward from years of conditioning as caregivers. These subconscious signals can create negative perceptions by the men in their industry. Males can perceive these female behavior patterns as weak. Women can remember to spread more when reclining and narrowing when leaning in.

Contributions: Alison Henderson from Moving Image Consulting

#3 Build your own table

Don't ever wait for a seat at the table. Build your own table and build your own boardroom to house and protect it. Consider sacrificing for your own success, but not for some CEO bro's dream. Have a lot of privilege? The space you have for marginalized sisters isn't yours to give, but it is your responsibility to hold it. If you can community build with these tips in mind, the gratitude and generosity of other women will lift you up three fold.

Contributions: Tara M. Clapper from The Geek Initiative

  1. Tara is one of the best editor and knowledgable person I know about marketing, SEO, web and editing. She is a great example for the women of tomorrow.

#4 Education

More recently STEM programs (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) have been introduced to primary and secondary students. This is a great start. Additionally, there are a plethora of free online courses women can take to enhance their knowledge of Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine learning, Coding, and an array of other tech categories.

Contributions: Alexis Davis from H.K. Productions Inc.

#5 Leadership

Women who are already in tech can serve as inspiration, engage in mentoring, volunteering and overall leading by example to help encourage women and girls to pursue a career in technology. Additionally, our male counterparts can complement these efforts by embracing the ideas and opportunities for women to get on board. 

Contributions: Alexis Davis from H.K. Productions Inc.

#7 Let your work speak for itself

Unfortunately, being a female in a male-dominated industry can mean that you have to really fight to be heard, seen, or even noticed. You might even think it's impossible to get a promotion since you might be the only female competing for the job. Luckily, there are many employers out there who really will notice the work you produce more so than just your gender. So, one tip to get your foot in the door is to put everything you have into your work production. Show them you are just as or even more so capable, qualified, and motivated as your male coworkers. Try letting your work speak for itself. 

Contributions: Alayna Pehrson from BestCompany

#9 Do Your Research

It's not easy to be a woman in an industry made up of mostly men. You have to work twice as hard to make sure you know what you're talking about. Make sure you research common practices, lawsuits, complaints, compliments, and current issues in your industry! Also research people you are meeting with.

Contributions: Lauren Deutsch from Cars2Charities 

#10 Keep Calm

You've done your research, you're an expert in your field, and you are successful! If a man treats you disrespectfully, take it with a grain of salt. If you don't let it bother you then you win! If he's acting that way he's probably just intimidated. Or if that's not the case, then perhaps he's just not a good person. It's true! But keep calm and don't let it get to you, because you ARE a good person. Which mean's you're already winning. 

Contributions: Lauren Deutsch from Cars2Charities 

#11 It IS About Winning

Not in the way you think, but it's about making sure you know that you did everything to outshine the men you are working with, meeting with, or pitching to- celebrate the small wins! You are the best because you have worked hard to be the best! And if your pitch isn't chosen or you didn't land the project you wanted, know that you're determined, strong, and hard working, so you will win the next time around! Having drive and a sense of competition is not a bad thing. Your business and career depend on it. So don't be ashamed of who you are! Maintain your high moral values, keep working hard, and let yourself enjoy the small wins! Because the big ones will follow! 

Contributions: Lauren Deutsch from Cars2Charities 

#12 Take action

Instead of sitting by and letting yourself get lost in the sea of men in your office, you should take action to get noticed. It may be hard to work your way into the office dynamic and become a leader, but if you truly want it, then you should fight for it. Speak up in meetings, present good ideas, ask and seek leadership opportunities, and make sure everyone can see you mean business. 

Contributions: Alayna Pehrson from BestCompany

#13 Get yourself a mentor

If you feel lost and hopeless, try seeking out a mentor. Having a strong business-driven female mentor to look up to can really help you get a different perspective on things and can give you some ideas on how you can become one yourself. Get on LinkedIn, approach other females in the office, or even send a message to someone who speaks at women in business conferences, etc. There are many places to find these female mentors, so don't give up if the first place you try doesn't work out. 

Contributions: Alayna Pehrson from BestCompany

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Written by Zak Parker

Journalist, writer, musician, professional procrastinator. I'll add more here later.

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