How To Thrive in a Male Dominated Job – A Guide For Women

29 Jan 2016

Last weekend, I had a good talk with a college friend who working as a game developer in a fast growing start-up company in Bandung. Among the 20 engineers, only 3 of them are women including her. Been almost 3 years in the company, she reveals both bitter and sweet of being “minority” on the things she loves. Moreover at the beginning of her career, she confessed that it was shocking and pretty emotional: from sexist comments, humiliation, jokes, boredom, to being accused of being emotional or weak.
We both agree that a very male-dominated industry is hugely dynamic, employing many smart individuals, and never settle for mediocrity. Once we plunged our self in this industry, it seems like we have no other options to look up to. However, sometimes it is very challenging for females. So, refer to our conversation based on experience in the tech start-up world, I’ve compiled some tips for women who want to break the glass ceiling and succeed without sacrificing sanity or personal life. We both has done some of them.    
Never forget why you got into this field. If there is something attracted you to technology career since the first time you pick this major in college, never forget that!  Keep yourself current in the topics, take courses, and read more. That will help you feel more confident when you meet your peers. I’ve been decided to be surrounded by the latest technology trend while working and contribute myself in the product development process. I don’t even have technical background but I never look back.
Stay Professional No Matter What. My friend told me that she receives so many sexist comments due to her role. She choose to ignore them. She wouldn’t lose her temper or even her job for someone that is not worth arguing with and keep being professional instead.
Don’t Allow Yourself to be intimidated. She finally feel okay for being minority in her circle, as long as it doesn’t stop her from making moves. If men aren’t comfortable taking advice or direction from a woman, that’s their problem. Say yes to new opportunities that come your way. Even if you need to fight to get it all, do that!
Speak up! Don’t be a “Yes” Woman. In the industries I’ve worked in, there’s tremendous pressure to work hard in order to achieve everything. In my previous company, lunch and coffee runs aside, it’s all too easy to say yes to every project as I strive to be a “good employee” but I realize that it’s not good for me and the company, I felt overworked and couldn’t handle it. It’s important to stand up for the projects you really want to work on and then push back at other times when you don’t have capacity. You can bet many of the guys say no—and you should, too.
Kill Them with Competence. You have to kill them with your own competence. ​The only way to convert the people who don’t believe in you is to do an amazing job.
Find a mentor. If your company doesn’t already have a mentor program, reach out to a woman in a senior role and learn from their experience. They’ll more than likely be excited to help younger female employees along in their career paths. While most of female employees are my peers, I decided to stick more with them and encourage each other.
Go To happy hour. Don’t miss out on the chance to bounce ideas around outside of the office with the boys. I think it’s one of the best ways to bond with your co-workers in a relaxing group activity like going to the cafe, workout together, or playing games and make a conversation among them. It might be a bit awkward or intimidating at first, but is one of the easiest ways to integrate yourself into the group and make sure you’re up to speed with any business developments.
Be confidence and stand up for yourself. Share if you have a good idea and take credit for it. If you disagree with someone, don’t be afraid to say so. There’s no need to be arrogant or rude, but don’t be too self-deprecating either. As long as you believe in yourself and your competence, your (male) colleagues will respect you.
Embrace who you are and what contributions you can make. “Embrace what you are capable of and show it to the world” she encourages. I nodded. I know that it is what I am here for. Never feel guilty of your value as a professional and as a human being. Your career is in your hands and do not let other decide your career path.
The bottom line is, no matter what is your gender, keep pushing and do what you love. Do not let others define your career. If you want to leave your job because you are not good at it, then do it.  However, if you are good at it, do not let others discourage you.
What advice do you have for women in navigating male-dominated jobs? 🙂

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