Tips For Women In Male-Dominated Careers
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Be Professional2 of 12
By Natasha Burton
For recent grads especially, remember that your university days are behind you. "Although it worked for Elle Woods, try to keep talk of your 'Delta Nu' days to a minimum. You want your co-workers to see you as a serious career woman, not a sorority girl still stuck in college," says Carmen, an investment banking analyst.
Don't Gossip3 of 12
On a similar note, as tempting as it may be, "steer clear of office gossip," says Jill, an aerospace engineer. "When men do it, they're just 'B.S.-ing,' but when women do it they're called gossipers. No one will respect the office blabbermouth."
Dress The Part4 of 12
While you don't need to dress manly, "offices have dress-codes for a reason," Jill says. "No tight shirts or skirts. Stick to granny panties and leave the thongs for your Saturday night dates — you don't want your 50-year-old, beer-bellied coworker to be getting any ideas." Carmen agrees: "It's okay to wear cute dresses and skirts, just don't show too much skin. You will already stand out by being a woman; you don't want to stand out by dressing inappropriately."
Wear Pearls5 of 12
Nothing says classy like tasteful accessories. "Invest in a pearl necklace and earrings," says Carmen. "After a long night in the office, or too many drinks at happy hour, pearls help give your complexion a nice glow."
Watch Your 'Tude6 of 12
Some women can be "overly aggressive, almost as if to 'prove' that they are just as worthy as a male co-worker," says Bryan, a senior credit analyst at an investment management firm. "Outside of work these women are [typically] not super-alpha by nature — in the office they can come off as being abrasive and, to some extent, fake. If you are a smart, confident woman in a male-dominated industry, your intelligence and work product should speak for themselves."
Find A Mentor7 of 12
Carmen advices women to "seek out a female mentor within the organization. Most big companies should have a mentor program already in place, if not, don't be afraid to reach out to a woman in a senior role you respect and ask to meet with her or offer to take her out to coffee. You might be surprised by how willing senior woman are to foster the development and recognition of younger female employees."
Don't Play Secretary8 of 12
"Don't always be the one to set up the meetings, jot down the minutes or book the conference room," says Donna, who just earned her MBA from a leading university. "You'll be stuck playing secretary for the rest of your life."
Always Do Your Best9 of 12
Women in male-dominated fields typically have to work harder to prove themselves, says Steven, a computer software engineer. Some companies in guy-heavy fields notoriously hire women who aren't as qualified to meet quotas and make their offices seem diverse, which negatively affects male perception of a woman's qualifications and performance. "This may sound sexiest, but I'm impressed when a woman can teach me something new," he says.
Go To Happy Hour10 of 12
One way to integrate yourself with your colleagues is to socialize with them. "Accept offers to grab drinks after work with your male co-workers," says Carmen. "It may be awkward at first, but will help integrate you in the group."
Hold Your Own11 of 12
Gender discrimination can happen in any workplace, and how you deal with it will help your future success. "I’ve been talked down to, spoken to as if I was a child and flat out told I didn’t know what I was doing by people (mostly men) who have never worked in my field," says Marie, a publicity manager in the publishing industry. "Stick to your guns and be confident — even if it's not in your nature to boost your ego, it’s crucial to at least pretend you have one."
Don't Give Up12 of 12
"I have been there — doubting my ability, performance, and potential all because of one or two particularly harsh conversations where I was discriminated against," Marie continues. "Keep things in perspective. Reflect upon all of the positive projects you’ve worked on. If it means pulling up old emails or notes from former important clients who loved your work, do it."