If you have recently entered the workforce, or are about to enter the workforce, you may have noticed that many offices are dominated by men. After I graduated from college and accepted my first job, I was surprised to find out that not only was I the youngest person in my office by about 30 years, I was also the only female that worked there. I had come from a university where my major was one of the most popular and my classes were consistently about 50/50 men and women. Going from a high-tech, youthful learning environment to an environment where the men I was working with had been in the industry for 30-40 years required some adapting, and sometimes I felt like my suggestions were going unnoticed or being shot down simply because of my age and gender. Finding your voice in a male-dominated workplace can be tricky, but it is possible.
Stop the imposter syndrome
It’s so easy for women to suffer from “imposter syndrome,” the feeling that you’re inadequate or undeserving of the position that you’re in. Once you acknowledge that your credentials (where you went to school, how much you know about the subject, etc.) are enough, you’ll start to feel more confident. Learn more about beating imposter syndrome here.
Learn the field
Spend time getting comfortable in your office, honing your craft and becoming an expert on subjects that are important in your field. This will give you the confidence you need to speak up during staff meetings or offer suggestions to your coworkers or superiors.
Believe in your ideas
If you want the men in your office to respect and believe in you, you first have to believe in yourself. The more that you continue to learn and grow in your field, the more confident you should feel. This confidence will speak for itself during staff meetings and idea-pitch sessions.
Stand up for yourself
Don’t be afraid to make a little bit of noise to get things done around the office. If you know you’re being discriminated against for your gender, say something. Do so politely and respectfully, but don’t be afraid to ruffle a few feathers.
Know when to back down
Even if you do work in an office where you’re one of few women, gender isn’t everything. Sometimes there will be someone in the room with a better idea than you, and that doesn’t mean you’re being discriminated against. Realize that sometimes you won’t be the best person for every job, or have the best pitch for every new project, and know when it’s time for you to back down and let someone else be the ringleader.