10 tips to help women thrive in male-dominated industries

6 min read
Brenda Barron

Working in an industry traditionally dominated by men can be lonely for a woman, not to mention it can also be a bumpy road — especially if you’re ambitious and want to move up the ranks. But as challenging as it is, surviving and succeeding in male-dominated industries is possible. 

In this post, we’ll share facts and statistics about women’s share of the labour force in a number of fields where men make up the majority. Then we’ll offer up 10 tips that will not only help you succeed but also thrive in your workplace. 

Women in male-dominated industries: Facts and numbers

Women make up 43.8 percent of the total labor force in East Asia & Pacific. However, there are a number of industries where the male gender is strongly favored. These male-dominated industries include web development, construction, technology, and science. Another area to consider belongs to C-suite roles where more commonly you’ll find a man rather than a woman in charge. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the numbers and facts for what are usually considered male-dominated industries.

-- When it comes to the web development industry, data shows that one in every 10 developers is a women.

-- In the construction industry, women workers occupy 7 percent, 11.6 percent and 2.5 percent in the construction management sector, construction and building inspection sector and regular construction sector respectively.

-- When it comes to the tech industry, women who are older than 35 are 3.5 times more likely to be in a junior position.

-- Women are still being underrepresented in the C-suite sector despite studies showing women are better in leadership roles.

-- Women run 30 percent of all businesses worldwide, but only 5 percent of those businesses are the biggest enterprises.

Related: How can your business benefit from more diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Woman Executive Male Dominated Industry

10 tips to help women thrive in male-dominated industries

Now that we’ve covered statistics about women in male-dominated industries, let’s go over the tips that will help you succeed. 

  1. Be assertive.
  2. Own your career choice.
  3. Trust your skills.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
  5. Cultivate friendships.
  6. Find a mentor.
  7. Support your coworkers.
  8. Avoid getting easily offended.
  9. Learn how to handle conflict.
  10. Never stop learning.

Keep these 10 things in mind when you’re pursuing a career where men make up the majority.

Related: The world needs more women in STEM fields 

1. Be assertive

Being in the minority, you might hesitate to state your opinion, ideas or preference. 

Otherwise, you will go unnoticed, which will make it harder not only for your coworkers to remember you but also your superiors. This doesn’t mean you have to be rude. It simply means stating your opinions, sharing your ideas and expressing your preferences when projects are delegated. 

Related: 12 female thought leaders you need to follow 

2. Own your career choice

It’s not uncommon for women who decide to pursue careers in typically masculine industries to be mistaken for assistants or significant others, especially at events and conferences. 

When you own your career choice, you can proudly say what you do and state how long you’ve been in the industry. 

You’d be surprised at what a little confidence can do for the image others have about you.

3. Trust your skills

Remember that you are here because you have the skills and the know-how to do your job. Some of your coworkers might have a few more years of experience under their belt and some will be at the same level as you. As long as you keep learning and honing your craft, there is no reason to doubt what you can accomplish. 

Related: 4 career aptitude tests to help you access your skills and potential 

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want

According to Katie Donovan, the founder of Equal Pay Negotiations, only 30 percent of women bother to negotiate their salary compared to 46 percent of men. Donovan also states that most companies leave money aside specifically for salary and raise negotiations. So by staying silent, you’re only hurting yourself. 

5. Cultivate friendships

Grabbing a beer after work is common among guys. So why not join them? While they might be hesitant at first to invite you, there is no rule that states you can’t take the first step. Ask them if they want to grab a beverage or bit to east after work — chances are they will gladly accept the invitation as well as be more inclined to invite you to join them in the future.

6. Find a mentor

One of the best ways to get ahead is to find a sponsor. Start working on building a professional relationship with your manager and senior leaders in your company. Don’t be afraid to ask for their advice and learn from them as much as you can. 

Related: The importance of female mentorship in the tech industry 

7. Support your coworkers

In some cases, it’s best to lead by example. In other words, if you want support and friendships, be willing and prepared to do the same in return. This tip is even more important if there are other women working in the same company. 

8. Avoid getting easily offended

Some guys tend to have less of a filter when they are talking with their friends and coworkers, especially if there is an overlap between the two. If you’re easily offended, they will be less inclined to act normally around you, which will make you feel even more alienated. While certain behaviors and statements are never OK , learn to appreciate male coworkers’ sense of humor and language.

9. Learn how to handle conflict

Sometimes a conflict cannot be avoided. Instead of dwelling on who’s wrong and who’s right, stay positive and figure out how to move past the issue. Avoid attacking your coworkers and at the same time, don’t let them attack you or intimidate you into backing down simply because you are outnumbered. 

10. Never stop learning

Lastly, continue honing your craft and improving your skills. Not only will this allow you to become a master of your craft, but it will also boost your confidence and open up new opportunities within your industry.

Related: 9 powerful professional organizations for women in business 

Final thoughts

Working in a field where you are the minority can be lonely and challenging. However, when you get into the right mindset, it’s a lot easier to rise to the top. Use the tips in this article to your advantage so you can not only succeed but also thrive in any male-dominated industry.