Being a woman in the workplace is, no pun intended, hard work.
You have to deal with negativity from older, male peers. Sexual harassment is an issue that hasn’t gone away. And you’re constantly fighting against negative prejudices when it comes time to getting that raise or scoring that promotion.
And that number drops when you talk about women of color.
In addition to the wage gap, studies show that when men have kids they are seen as more responsible. But when women have kids, they are seen as being less committed to work.
So, this unconscious bias held by many business leaders is another mental hurdle that women are forced to overcome.
This isn’t news to anyone — but with the growth of movements like #MeToo and the success of the women’s march, women’s issues have become more of a conversation.
And that’s exactly what we’ve been waiting for.
But even with all of the evolving conversations and the public outcry against the established order, women still have to deal with a lot of unnecessary behaviors and mentalities that can potentially block their professional growth.
That’s where we come in.
You shouldn’t feel like you can’t grow or learn in your workplace. You shouldn’t feel stagnant. You shouldn’t feel held back because of your sex.
We’ve created a helpful guide to surviving a male-dominated workforce that you can look to the next time someone makes a misogynistic comment or passes you over for the younger, less qualified male colleague.
Five Tips For Surviving A Toxic, Male-Dominated Workplace
1. Challenge The Status Quo
One of the first things you can do to feel more comfortable in the workplace is to challenge the issues you see in the process and with your leaders.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should start fights and start calling out executives who you fear might be mistreating you. Instead, work together to create a conversation around these issues with other colleagues. Join company-sponsored groups that are meant to deal with these issues and disparities.
If someone makes a comment, question it. Don’t let it slide. No one is going to make you feel comfortable. You have to do it yourself. Question the status quo and demand the change you deserve.
2. Speak Up
There are a number of people out there who believe women speak less than men in the workforce. And there are also those that believe that women speak more — and unnecessarily so.
But don’t let this negativity hold you back. Your voice deserves to be heard. So the next time you’re in a meeting, make sure you get your opinion and your thoughts out there. Don’t let your male peers interrupt your or control the conversation.
You are just as skilled, knowledgeable and deserving. You were hired for a reason — your voice and your mind are valuable.
3. Network, Network, Network
This is a great tip in general, but it’s definitely some helpful advice for surviving a male-dominated office.
There’s always strength in numbers. And the more contacts you have, the more opportunities you have to propel yourself forward in your professional career.
85 percent of jobs are filled through networking. And that’s just one statistic that shows the power of networking for people in the workforce.
Making an effort to network not only with people in your office but with people in your industry establishes a credibility in your capabilities and your experience. This will help to shift some negative perceptions and show your leaders that you’re a valuable asset.
4. Be Direct
Communication is extremely important when it comes to business success. And it’s been documented that indirect communication, in general, is seen as less professional overall.
So all people should practice direct communication. But especially for women in the workplace, direct communication is imperative.
It shows that you’re not here to dance around the subject. You’re here to get stuff done. You’re here to kick ass and take names if you will.
Being direct means cutting out unnecessary words and phrasing from your vocabulary. You have to be succinct, straightforward and to the point. This shows your own authority and expertise and tells others that you deserve to be respected and listened to.
5. Believe In Yourself
This one might sound cliched and outdated. But confidence really is key.
Studies show that people with higher confidence levels earn more. So one way to pave your way and leave your mark is to give yourself a confidence boost. Believe in the work you’re doing and what you’re capable of.
This will help break down the barriers that are keeping you from succeeding in the male-dominated arena. Because this shows your colleagues that you know what you’re doing and you’re absolutely not sorry about.
Own who you are. Own what you do. You’ll be one step closer to acing that next review.