ambitious female in male-dominated industries

Tips to succeed as an ambitious female in male dominated industries

Are you an ambitious female in male-dominated industries?

In many industries, men outnumber women in the workplace which can often make it difficult for women to stand out and be noticed. While this type of environment is not ideal for a woman to rise to the upper echelons of management, there are certain strategies which can be employed to ensure that you not only survive but thrive in any workplace, male-dominated or not.

As Chief Operating Officer of a major Australian real estate network, I’ve experienced first hand what it’s like to operate as a woman in a senior role within a male-dominated industry. I fully appreciate that, it can be tough for women to be heard in a roomful of men, however, I don’t believe that’s any justification for us to rest on our laurels and not make every effort to communicate the full extent of our talent, skill set and capabilities.

Based on my own experience of working in many male-dominated industries including real estate, finance, insurance and IT, I’ve learned many lessons on how to climb the corporate ladder. Here are my  5 top tips on how to succeed as an ambitious female in a male-dominated workplace.

Speak Up

In 2014 the Harvard Business Review published a study which reported that women are less likely to speak up in meetings than men and that when we do we also tend to apologise and allow ourselves to be interrupted. Awareness is the first step in combating our tendency to demure ourselves in the presence of men. What you have to say is worth hearing so speak with confidence and authority. Finish what you’re saying and then invite comment. Recognise the value in what you have to offer and you’ll soon find that others will too.

Embrace Acclaim

It’s not surprising that we tend to struggle with accepting any form of praise or acknowledgement, especially given we grew up in a culture rife with tall poppy syndrome and were told little girls should be ‘seen and not heard’. We often deflect praise from ourselves onto others and this can be a significant disadvantage in the workplace as credit will be received by others who will then reap the rewards. Learn to accept any acclaim which comes your way. Acknowledge others if they helped, but don’t shy from standing up and owning a job well done as this will inspire confidence in your abilities by those around you.

Be Your Own Biggest Advocate

Don’t let your own fears become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We all have self-doubt but it’s those who learn to control it who ultimately get ahead. If you openly doubt yourself, this will be reflected in your interactions with both clients and colleagues. Instead, consciously choose to be your own biggest advocate. Be confident, put yourself forward for opportunities and give yourself permission to say yes to bigger opportunities.

Professional Development

I believe that continued professional development makes you incredibly appealing to an employer. Take advantage of the training offered at your workplace, attend industry events, network, build your contacts, listen to podcasts or read books. If you continue to demonstrate your increasing value and skill set to your employer and demonstrate your willingness to go above and beyond to upskill, this will make you a valuable commodity to any employer.

Go One Step Further

Create your own opportunities. One doesn’t succeed by sitting back and waiting. Go one step further and suggest a new role to your employer and present a business case as to why it’s required, the benefits to the business and why you’re just the person to do the job; do whatever it takes to shine a spotlight on your capabilities, so much so that it cannot be denied.

As capable, talented and highly skilled women, we clearly have a lot to offer any employer and it is up to us to take positive and impactful action to put ourselves into positions where we can thrive in any environment, regardless of industry.

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Anna Thomas is the Chief Operating Officer of major Australian real estate network, Stockdale & Leggo. She was recognised as a Telstra Business Women’s Awards Finalist in the Corporate and Private Award in 2016, a 2017 Finalist in the Real Estate Business Awards ‘Industry Thought Leader of the Year’ Award and a Bronze Stevie winner in the Woman of the Year category in the 2017 International Business Awards. She is also the Founder and Brand Ambassador of the ‘Empowered Women in Real Estate’ initiative, a community empowering women to believe in themselves and step forward into leadership roles.

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