In my careers, I have worked with many more men than women. For the most part, I preferred that. It seemed as if it was frequently less complicated. What woman in the workplace has not dealt with the “mean girls” at some point in life? Whether in middle school or the office cubicles, there is no doubt they exist. But unlike middle school, we are generally much more capable of handling our female co-workers. We know how they work.
But to be successful in our jobs, working women have to learn how the male population works; we must also learn to successfully respond to their nature. It was scenarios like this one that I had to manage, learning how to be that small percentage voice in a male-dominated atmosphere.
Once again, I’m in a room filled with men; I’m only one of two women in this planning session. These are good men—creative, sharp, looking for good ideas no matter what corner of the table they come from, yet the chest-pounding has begun. The one-upmanship that happens in a room filled with testosterone can be intimidating. What’s a girl to do?
1. Let the room breathe.
A strong woman doesn’t have to talk loudly or forcefully, and she most certainly does not have to thump her chest to be heard. She simply waits for the right time. Letting the testosterone roll around the room uninterrupted is always a good thing. We don’t have to compete for airspace; we have to wait for airspace to appear. Men generally speak with conviction and certainty as they make their points. But they don’t speak long. Let them have their say; then you can have yours.
It was scenarios like this one that I had to manage, learning how to be that small percentage voice in a male-dominated atmosphere.
2. Don’t be afraid to use your knowledge of women.
“From a female perspective, I think…” We have a perspective that is uniquely ours. In the marketplace of life, most know that the buyers and influencers are women. We make a plethora of decisions throughout the day that brings success or failure to companies big and small. Through the years, we quit shopping at K-Mart and started shopping on Amazon. We know what appeals to our gender; when stated well, it will be heard. You’ll not only be heard, but you’ll bring success. Remember this: men will value whatever you pitch because they have no clue what women think.
3. Speak sensibly.
Communicate calmly, logically, and without antagonizing because you’ve got a brain—a good one. I think one of our most effective tools is self-confidence. When we believe in our value and contribution, we don’t have to pound anything. We simply have to present our knowledge, position, and plan. When we get passionate, even angry, we are more often misinterpreted by our male counterparts. It’s not a fair interpretation, but it exists nonetheless. Don’t fight that perception; work with it. Use that unique talent that you possess, and communicate well the amazingly unique perspective that you bring to the table, especially in the testosterone-filled working world.
You don’t have to prove you’re one of them; you’re not. As one of two women in a room of 10, your perspective is unique and valuable. So step in, step up, and step out in this world where your very gender, along with your vast ability, allows you to shine.
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So step in, step up, and step out in this world where your very gender, along with your vast ability, gives you the opportunity to shine.