Traditionally male industries welcoming female executives?

by Aman Singh Das | June 10, 2009

  • My Vault

“For the modern-day woman, becoming a part of an industry such as computer science or engineering where men are the dominating force can be intimidating,”  In this generation, many industries seek more diversity in their workforce whether it is in management or hiring females to boost that one percentage of the company's demographics.  (In a press release today, Deloitte announced that they had reached a landmark count of 1,000 women partners, principals and directors.)

Regardless of the current economic situation, women are gaining recognition in leadership roles every day.  An article from ITworld.com states that five prominent IT companies have vowed to do more to make tech jobs attractive to women and to make better use of their potential in the IT sector.  In a stereotypically male-dominated industry, such a declaration is great news for women not only for their careers’ elevation but also because they offer higher pay and greater benefits than traditionally female industries  like  child care, cosmetology, secretarial work, etc.

So here are some inspired tips on how to create a comfortable and enjoyable work environment as well as increase your chances for success in predominantly male offices:

Women held in high regard?
Before accepting a job offer, do some research.  “Check to see if women are rendered in committees or hold leadership positions.  According to Directors & Boards magazine, 38% of executives named as independent directors on corporate boards in the first quarter were women.”  You will feel much more comfortable knowing that your male colleagues appreciate and commend women in the workplace.  During your interview, don’t be afraid to ask about policies such as maternity leave.

Alpha and Beta:  Christopher Flett, founder of Ghost CEO, a professional development program for women, advises that women should “separate the two types of men in the office and interact with them accordingly”.  “The typical Alpha males possess a “get it done” frame of mind, so when speaking to such a coworker, Mr. Flett points out to use language that pertains to your goals.  Be sure to promptly make your point.  Beta males are more concerned with teamwork and making partnerships.” These are the men that you will feel most comfortable around in social/out of office situations.

Speak with confidence: Learn to be direct and confident with your coworkers and managers, it is appealing to them.  If male colleagues see that a woman can hold her own and be assertive, they will automatically see that she belongs in that type of environment. “Professionals should not use phrases such as “I’m sorry” or “I think” unless it is absolutely necessary.  Women tend to apologize for situations that they are not accountable for, but what they don’t see is that it exposes weakness.  By using “I think”, it humbles the point that they are trying to make.”

Sisterhood: Introduce yourself to other women, regardless of their place in the hierarchy. Women who have been with the company for some time and have an understanding of how a number things and people in the office work can provide a relationship similar to that of a mentor. They may offer advice to dealing with complicated situations.  If you really are the lone female member, join a professional organization and build your network from there.

Facial drama: It will come as no surprise that in many cases, women are the center of attention in an office with a high male count.  Many times, a woman is the only one in a meeting or office full of men.  The actions and appearance of the lone cheese will be analyzed by the males.  “It helps to consider the work day as a performance in a play.”  It helps for women to always be aware of their gestures, posture and facial expressions so that they do not get criticized for them later.  It is also useful to maintain eye contact and avoid a common habit of nodding in agreement. 

-Posted by Danielle Correa, Vault Diversity Project Asst.

Filed Under: CSR

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