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10 Career Tips for Women in Male-Dominated Industries

10 Career Tips for Women in Male-Dominated Industries

Some additional tips were added by ChatGPT.

As a woman, advancing your career in a male-dominated industry can bring you face-to-face with (unexpected) barriers and biases. You will need solid strategies to navigate them and in this blogpost you will get 10 great tips to keep your career going despite them.

Breaking into a male-dominated industry can be a daunting task, especially for women who end up facing barriers and biases that hinder their careers. However, there are many strategies that can help navigate these challenges and achieve success despite the challenges.

Let us be very clear: Both women and men face gendered pressures at work. While most tips can be use for whichever gender one identifies with, the following tips are focused mostly on the challenges faced by women. We hope these tips work as well for persons identifying as diverse, but we are very aware that this target group faces a whole additional set of challenges, too.

10 Tips to Advance Your Career in Male-Dominated Industries


Develop a Strong Network

Building relationships with colleagues, mentors, and industry leaders is crucial for any career, but it can be especially important for women in male-dominated industries. A strong network can provide not just valuable advice but support in hard times, and most importantly, opportunities for advancement. Look for opportunities to attend industry events, join professional organizations, and participate in networking groups.


Find a Mentor or Sponsor

Having a mentor or sponsor can be an invaluable help for women in male-dominated industries. Seek out women and men who are successful in your field and ask them if they are willing to mentor or sponsor you.

Definition of mentor vs sponsor
A mentor can provide guidance, support, and advice on career development. A sponsor can advocate for you regarding e.g., promotions, and help you access new opportunities.

Addendum courtesy of Dragica K. from our community
How about being a mentor or sponsor yourself? Nothing will be more helpful in preventing you from developing impostor syndrome than starting early with empowering others, e.g. at university helping younger students. By helping others help themselves, you will feel empowered, too!


Be Confident and Assertive
Confidence and assertiveness are key traits for success in any career. Women may be perceived as less confident or assertive than men, so it is even more important for women than men to develop these skills and project a strong, confident image. Practice speaking up in meetings, negotiating for what you want, and advocating for yourself. Feeling inadequate? Be aware that your self-confidence might be cracked by Impostor Syndrome, a cognitive distortion – remember your skills and experience and remind yourself, why you deserve to be confident in what you do and say.

Impostor Syndrome
Impostor syndrome is generally defined as doubts about one’s own abilities and the feeling of being an imposter. It primarily affects high achievers who find it difficult to accept their achievement. Many question whether they deserve the recognition. Imposter Syndrome is not a psychological disorder, but tends to be dished out almost like a diagnosis. While there are many forms of and reasons for it, bias in the workplace can cause it, too.

Here is a great article by Harvard Business Review on the topic and here is the 1978 founding study by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes, who originally termed it the “Impostor Syndrome”.


Be Persistent and Resilient
Women may face more obstacles and setbacks than their male colleagues while working in male-dominated industries, so it’s important to be persistent and resilient. Do not give up when faced with challenges. Instead, look for creative solutions to problems. Learn from your failures and keep pushing forward. There is always a way, it is in your hands to find it 😉


Find Allies and Advocates
Having allies and advocates within your organization or industry can be a powerful way to overcome bias and advance your career. Seek out individuals who are supportive of women in your field, build relationships with them and let them help you navigate challenges. Same as mentors and sponsors, they can connect you with opportunities, and provide valuable advice and support.


Build Your Skills and Expertise
Developing strong skills and expertise is crucial for success in any career, but it can be especially important for women in male-dominated industries. Women may face higher expectations and scrutiny in these fields, so it is important to build a strong foundation of skills and knowledge. Look for opportunities to develop your skills through training, mentorship, and on-the-job experience.

But sometimes women face lower expectations or are outright discounted based on stereotypes. This might deprive them of getting opportunities offered to them. Read Harvard Business Review’s articles about the different expectations men and women face and how wrong they are, and about women getting less credit for their work.

While building your skills, beware of tasks with no recognition or reward, as they will hold you back rather than help you advance your career. Here is a good article detailing why “office housework” should be avoided.


Embrace Your Unique Perspective and Strengths
Women bring unique perspectives, strengths, and experiences to the table. And it is crucial to embrace these qualities: they are your personal secret ingredient. Do not try to blend in with your male colleagues or downplay your strengths and accomplishments. Instead, use your unique perspective and your strengths to your advantage: find ways to add value to your organization.


Advocate for Change
Be part of the long-run solution. Advocating for change can be a powerful way to create a more equitable and inclusive workplace. Look for opportunities to advocate for policies and practices that support diversity and inclusion, and speak out against bias and discrimination when you see it. You might feel that you cannot do much, but every effort counts and a lot of small efforts by everyone will be a movement and pave the road – for yourself and others alike.


Seek out Allies outside of Your Organization
In addition to building relationships within your organization or industry, it can be helpful to seek out allies outside of your immediate work environment. Look for mentors, peers, and allies in other industries or organizations who can provide a fresh perspective and support your career development. There are other industries or organizations that are further along the way in making the workplace a space with equal opportunities. Maybe you can get new inputs from them.


Take Care of Yourself
Finally, it is important to prioritize self-care and well-being. Women in male-dominated industries may face higher levels of stress and burnout, so it’s crucial to take care of yourself both mentally and physically.

  • Take breaks when you feel your energy-level draining.
  • Take time for a little breathing exercise.
  • Delegate some work, get rid of office housework you might already have taken on 😉 and learn to say “no”.
  • Make sure you sleep enough and have enough off-screen time.
  • Definitely say goodbye to the misconception that you need to be busy all the time – go for a walk and some “you time” instead.

We sincerely hope you liked the 10 tips and more importantly, that they will help you advance your career. Should you have an additional tip that you feel like sharing with our community, feel free to send us a message via our Contact Form.


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