Male dominated industry? Here's how to deal

Beat men at their own game with these tips from a woman who knows how.

Today, there are positives and negatives when it comes to women in employment. Yes women are lagging behind in terms of salary and promotional opportunities where male colleagues are favoured for the higher executive and more demanding roles, but women are actually dominating and challenging more, which is a positive.

To a large extent, women are often side-lined in positions but the woman in leadership is on the rise and is the one to look out for.

No one can deny the fact that sexism is prevalent in the workplace and women face many obstacles which they have to face up to on a daily basis. The so called glass ceiling really does exist in a lot of companies around the world. In fact, only a third of corporations in the US have a woman at the top of the tree.

Those women that make it that far are not just the lucky ones and likely very thick skinned, but they will influence many more women and are seen as motivational. Some have suggested that to achieve anything in the corporate world, a woman has to practically act like a man, showing aggression and drive - which is (unfortunately) not traditionally considered a female characteristic. But that is not all that is needed; softer skills win success if you think smart and act smart.

Industries where women have had particular difficulty gaining entry include engineering, aviation, construction and even music. It sounds strange to say music but you only need to look at the men at the top in the music world such as Simon Cowell, Clive Davis and Tommy Mottola.

These men might be seen as the puppet masters to the singing female puppets. It is only Amanda Ghost (President of Epic Records) who has managed to break this mould. As for pilots, woman only account for around 5% in the US and 18% in the UK, a worrying figure but can be turned around.

So, what can women do to get themselves ahead in the future? I have learnt a thing or two in my engineering careers. I started from the bottom, where I was placed in a lab through my first Telegraph engineering job. I then worked my way up in engineering even project managing sites and this was all in a male dominated industry.

The main thing I learnt is you need to take the risks, fight back, and motivate others up the success ladder in their job. There is no point in sitting back and accepting a situation - which is annoying at best. Learn to take action and dominate the industry.

Here are some of my starter tips on how to think smart and act smart in a male dominated work industry and not just for the women in engineering but for all women out there.

Know The Law
To start, all women should be familiar with their rights and the basic provisions of employment law. Some employers surprisingly are ignorant to the legal parameters that they have to abide by and can find themselves open to a law suit and driving skilful women away.

To know where you stand in the industry is very important; this will then help you on your career ladder to the right promotions with the right type of company giving you what you are entitled to. Think smart and act smart, your knowledge could be the gateway to other opportunities.

Know Your Job Well

The brain is crucial to success women, and one of the best ways of succeeding in a male dominated industry is to know more about the job than your male colleagues do. You may have to work twice as hard, to research and back up your female data but once you have shown that you are invaluable to the company, a promotion and accompanying salary would be hard to deny.

Don’t Show Your Anger or Negativity

Some men may try to upset women in order to highlight some emotional disadvantage in the cut throat world of business; this is neither acceptable or good behaviour however it can happen. Females of the working world, never show that you are upset, rather use it your advantage and expose the immaturity and discrimination.

Highlighting your strengths and morals, shows values and why would a company not want to be represented by such characteristics. A leading woman with respect, who can fail but rise above it all speaks volumes.

Better Qualifications and Industry Know How
It’s a good idea to always be one step ahead of your male colleagues. If opportunities arise to go on courses or seminars, make the effort to attend them. Information and training received is extra ammunition to use in your fight for promotion. You can learn loads at conferences, so why not opt to present as a female in your company, suggest to the boss that you would like to attend these events and represent the brand and the offering of your knowledge in the industry.

In conclusion, the main thing to remember is that as a woman, you are just as capable as any man in the workplace and should always maintain positive thinking. If you are a successful leading woman in your industry then let to be known to the world and bring the female workforce together.

Jenny Beswick is a woman who has worked in a male dominated industry. Having worked on a number of Telegraph Engineering jobs in a male dominated environment she now has the ability to give advice to other women looking to work in this field. Jen is looking forward to the future and hopes to see more female engineers emerge.

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