According to the United Nations, women are grossly underrepresented in the STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math) fields.
Fewer than 30% of the world's researchers are women and fewer than one-third of female students study math or science in college.
When these women do go into the workplace, many find it difficult to progress in their careers and may begin to doubt their own abilities. But there are strategies women can apply to make working in a male-dominated space less frustrating.
Strategies For Working In A Male-dominated Workplace
Most bosses don't have time to figure out who really wants a particular project. And most men, especially in male-dominated workplaces, aren't shy about speaking up for the projects they want. Instead of sitting patiently, waiting to be assigned to projects you want to work on, let your boss know directly .
Your boss tells your team about a new project that sparks your interest. How might you approach your boss about this?
Gender bias in the workplace can be overt or subtle. Research shows that women are 2.5 more likely to get feedback at work about being too assertive in their communication style and have 2.4 more references to team accomplishments over individual accomplishments .
If your project doesn't go as planned or you receive negative feedback, you can change how you feel about it and improve future performance by taking a step back and reframing . This means thinking about what went wrong and how you can improve next time. Reframing keeps you from feeling out-of-control and helpless.
Your team doesn't meet productivity expectations. You get negative feedback from your boss. How should you handle this?
Don't Take On Unpaid Work
If your male co-workers aren't getting each other coffee or chipping in to help each other out on projects on a regular basis, you shouldn't be doing that either. Likewise, there might be a lot of pressure to take on an extra project, but it's important to set boundaries and say, "no" when you need to.
Your boss asks you to pick up lunch for him regularly, even though it's not part of your role. What do you do?
Work To Change The Culture
Work to make all workplaces more inclusive. Do this by:
Joining a women's networking group.
Suggesting and supporting pro-women policies.
Speak up when you notice injustices, women being talked over or interrupted at meetings, or when others take credit for their ideas.
A male co-worker always interrupts women during meetings. What do you do?
If you're a woman working in a male-dominated profession or office, think about which of these strategies would be most helpful for you to apply right now.
And if you're a man working in a male-dominated field, consider what you can do to be an ally to women in your office.
It takes all of us to create more equal workplaces.