By Maria Sampalis, OD, of Corporate Optometry
Succeeding as a woman in a male-dominated world has always been a challenge, but it would be fair to say that women have made significant progress from where they started 30 years ago. From being seen as an anomaly in the American corporate world to comprising 57.4 percent of the workforce today – women have come a long way. However, there still exists a strong institutional bias toward the male way of doing things in many industries.
Following are some tips that will help you on your journey towards success.
1. Stay positive
As cliched as it may sound, positivity is something you will need to practice very often. Focusing on your feats and not letting people remind you of your past failures is important for a growth mindset. Tackling negative, preconceived notions about your gender with a positive attitude will be tricky, but it will be the single most influential factor in building a powerful image.
2. Be assertive
This does not equate to being rude and yet is very often confused with it. Succeeding as a woman will require cultivating confidence, and being assertive is the first step to achieving that. Do not let people interrupt you in meetings or other important conversations – politely yet sternly stating, ‘I am not finished speaking yet,’ is an excellent example of being assertive without being rude (even if people try to tell you otherwise.) Insisting on having your say is important in a male-dominated world.
3. Stay up to date
Be an aggressive learner in your field of passion; do not miss out on any educational seminars and conferences. Staying up to date with knowledge will help you be more confident and make you a relevant resource to your teammates and organization.
4. Learn how to handle conflict
This does not mean being combative, but to succeed, it is important not to avoid conflict. Stick up for yourself! Learn to handle it the right way. Always be forward-looking as to ‘how to move past this?’ and do not resort to attacking anyone on a personal level. On the same note, do not accept any personal attacks either. When angry, avoid sending any emails but make sure to communicate once you have cooled down.
5. Focus more on being ‘respected’ than ‘liked’
Extremely important – research has shown that those who use the word ‘sorry’ a lot or are focused on appeasing others are more likely to be trampled upon than appreciated. Apologize where it is due, but do not overuse the word. Practice starting your reactions to challenges with something other than “sorry.” Your goal should be to be respected; admiration will naturally follow.
Finally, be supportive of other women! This is more important than ever in a male-dominated world and deserves unlimited emphasis. It is unfortunate that despite the challenges women face in their journey toward success, other women can make the process harder. Whether you are in a position of seniority or a junior to a woman boss, try to encourage and appreciate your female colleagues.