As women continue to push boundaries and delve further into traditionally male dominated fields, they sometimes find themselves all alone. It’s not easy being the only woman in the room, believe me, I’ve been there.
But however uncomfortable it might seem, we must continue to forge ahead in the midst of this adversity to succeed in the work place. How? Try one or all of these 6 tips the next time you find yourself without another woman in sight.
1. Give Yourself A Pep Talk
Being the “only” can take a toll on your confidence, even when you don’t want it to. So, before you head into a new environment, give yourself a little pep talk, listen to your favorite song or get advice from your mentor. Sometimes, you just need a little reminder that through your hard work you’ve earned the right to be there.
And when your male counterparts do a bit of boasting don’t be afraid to join in and showcase your own abilities. You are just as deserving as anyone else, even if you are the only woman there.
2. Stock Up On Facts
When men meet, they often engage in a back and forth fact exchange to size each other up. As a result, the general impression is that the man with the most to say “won.” (Definitely far from true!)
To hold your own, start getting used to asserting your position early and often and engaging in the game of fact ping-pong. Stock up on fact ammunition by doing your research before-hand and being prepared to back yourself up.
3. Dress For Success
Your appearance shouldn’t matter, but it does. Especially when all eyes are on you. But the clothes you wear aren’t just for those around you. The right outfit can make you look and feel confident and empowered.
Choose clothing that is professional but not dull, and allows you to express yourself within the confines of the environment. More importantly, make sure that your clothes fit you well and compliment your body type. You want your appearance to work for you by getting you noticed for the right reasons, instead of taking the focus away from what you have to say.
4. Watch Your Language
It tends to come more naturally for men to speak authoritatively while women are more inclined to develop vocal patterns that are powerful tools for building relationships. Unfortunately, these habits tend to be judged as insecure and timid in male dominated environments.
You can make a big difference by avoiding upward intonation in your speech, as well as trailing off at the end of your sentences. Excessive use of words such as “like” and “um” can also distract. Speak boldly and confidently to ensure that your voice is not only heard but trusted and respected.
5. Censor Your Self-Censor
Young girls are often made to feel imperfect. As a result they grow into women with a "self-censor" that makes them much less likely to speak up unless they are sure that what they have to say will be positively received.
Throw caution to the wind and stop hesitating when you have a question or idea. Speak up and own it even when your thoughts are not adopted. The more you do it, the more comfortable you'll feel.
6. Fight Like a Man
We’ve all heard it before: men tend to perceive women as unpredictable, irrational, and emotional. Of course, this isn’t true, but this negative perception of women permeates both our personal and professional lives and tends to make us back down from conflict in the workplace.
In order to garner the respect you deserve, you need to get comfortable with fighting the battles that matter and not backing away in the face of all conflict. Often, amazing revelations and growth can come out of approaching and resolving a conflict with your peers in a rational and calm way.
Harness these six strategies, make them your own, and adapt them to work for you. Even though you may be walking into a male dominated environment, you have every right to walk among them. Hold your head up high ladies and continue to forge a path for the generations to come. You can do it!
Does the prospect of being the only woman in the room make you uncomfortable?