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How To Succeed In Male Dominated Industries
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Make Your Mark In The Workplace

It’s 2010 and females have more opportunities for success in a variety of fields than ever before. Just in the last generation or so, options for women have broadened to the end of the horizon. There is no job or career that is held out of reach for those with two X chromosomes, whether you want to be an astronaut or a doctor or the President of the United States. Women are no longer content to exist as the lesser human being or to play second fiddle in the world. We will no longer spend our lives cleaning up after and caring for men so that they can achieve success and capture their dreams. We will grab those dreams for ourselves, thankyouverymuch.

However as far as females have come, we still have a very long way to go. As a pioneering modern woman you may very well look around one day and think, “where the heck are all the ladies at?” As women step into new fields from medicine and math to music and architecture, we often find ourselves alone, or at the very least outnumbered. It can be daunting to walk into a room full of men and try to belong.

But you DO belong. Whether you want to design oilrigs or drive a bulldozer, wherever humans are, women belong there too. If you are drawn to industries that are traditionally male-dominated, do not despair. You can make your differences work in your favor, without ever having to get the boss coffee or wearing a miniskirt. Here’s how:

What Boys Club? Despite the many advances of our gender, we all know that it is still very much a man’s world out there. The “Old Boys Club” is alive and well, and men will help each other out as a matter of course, bringing their buddies to the forefront with a high-five. However you can never, ever act like this is a man’s world and that you don’t belong. You belong, and you must act like it. Don’t approach the situation as an outsider longing for acceptance, but rather walk in like you own the place and should be running it. Pretty soon you may be doing just that.

Confidence is Key. You must believe in yourself 1000%. Even on those days when you just want to throw in the towel and take a hot bath- especially on those days- you must act like you have no fears or weaknesses, just like a man. How often have you seen a guy strut right up like he’s God’s gift to the world when in fact you, him, and everyone else knows damn well he has a long way to go? Unlike men who seem to usually think more of themselves than they should, women seem to think less of themselves than they should and will downplay their skills and talents, hoping that their humility will work well in the realm of respect. It won’t. Confidence is far more admired by both males and females, and if you want to walk the walk, you must talk the talk as well.

See Your Difference as an Asset. So you’re the weird one in the group, the one who likes to paint her toenails blue, the one who bakes cupcakes, the one who smells good. You’re not abnormal; you’re unique, and you need to see it that way. Women’s brains are physically different than men’s brains, and we understand things from a separate perspective. Hundreds of thousands of years of child rearing have given females a fantastic capacity for empathy and the ability to multitask like there will be many tomorrows. You may be the only one in the room who can read a face in an instant, smell noxious fumes or sing soprano- and you must look at your differences as an asset, not a liability.

Save Flirting for the Weekend. You may get the boys’ attention with your cleavage, but you will never earn their respect, which is far more valuable. Playing the flirt card is an easy (and often programmed) way to get men to acknowledge you, but wouldn’t you prefer being noticed for your talents rather than your looks? It is much harder and takes longer to find success this way, but the respect you gain for yourself (and the respect the men will show you) far outweighs any shortcuts to success brought on by sexy miniskirts and high heels. Choose the upper road.

Help Out Other Females. Many women are confused and think the best way to succeed is to cut down other females, to backbite women and butter up the men to the detriment of each other. This could not be farther from the truth. Don’t regard other women in your industry as competition, but as potential comrades for shared future success. Work together to make inroads into male spheres, and help each other out whenever and however you can.

Do It for the Women Who Couldn’t. Pioneering a new road is always difficult, and as a woman working in a male-dominated industry, you will get discouraged. You will wonder why you are doing it, and you may just want to give up. But you aren’t just doing this for yourself and for your own hopes and dreams; you are doing it for the generations and generations of women who never even had the opportunity. You are doing it for women whose only choices in life were children or more children, for women who spent their entire existence scrubbing floors and cooking meals and changing diapers.

When your goals start to wane and you feel weak and uninspired to continue, think of these women. Think of your ancestors, of your grandmothers and their grandmothers, and then walk in with your head held high, confident and ready to pave the way for your granddaughters’ dreams. Together as women we are improving our lots in life; we have come so far and we cannot give up now. Someday there will not just be an Old Boys Club, but also a New Girls Club, and it will be a force to be reckoned with.

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Shilo Urban is a freelance writer who has just relocated to Los Angeles after her previous homes of Seattle, New Zealand, Paris, Maine, and Austin. She is an active member of the West Coast electronic music community and lives to promote the art that she loves and the people who create it.

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