If you are like me and you work in a male-dominated office or industry, this post is for you. Aside from being one of the few females in the tech industry, author Kelly Lammers, a senior account director at 352 Media Group, recently moved to the company’s new office in Tampa, Florida and was the only female in that office for some time. You can connect with Kelly on Twitter by following @KellyLammers.
I’ve always been comfortable around a group of guys. I’m not particularly girly, and I love sports, which tends to help. After college, I went from advertising, a female dominated program where I was in a sea of estrogen, to an office where I was the youngest and gravitated toward the all-male IT department. When I left I took a job at a Web design where I was one of 10 women in the entire office.
Working in a male-dominated office can present its problems. It’s no secret that women make less than men, hold less powerful positions, and are generally undervalued in the workplace. In my company, women are generally segregated into two positions: account director and marketing. In those positions, it’s easy to make your mark and be heard because there aren’t many men to compete with, but in other positions, the women struggle to find a voice.
Recently, I moved to a new office that my company opened, and until a couple of weeks ago, I was the only female. I felt lost as the men here don’t watch the sports I do, aren’t into the same things that I am, and have a completely different sense of humor than I do. It was the first time in my life that I’ve been surrounded by men and felt completely out of place.
How to Survive in a Male-Dominated Office
But I learned to adjust, and it’s made me better because of it. It was a challenge, sure, but here are five things I did to make my mark and make myself part of the culture without conforming to theirs.
- Take on an office leadership role: You don’t have to have a leadership title to be considered a leader in your office. Moving to this office, I still have the same title, but I pushed myself to be someone people could look to in the office. I’ve taken on more responsibility of making sure new people are settled when they arrive and making sure the office has everything they need. These small things make me more invested in the company and make sure people know that I’m around.
- Go out to lunch with people in the office: Sure going out to lunch gets expensive and time-consuming, but even if it’s just one day a week, make a point to leave the office with your coworkers. This gives you a chance to make your presence known outside your office wall. When people know more about you personally, they trust you more in the office. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, you may find you have more in common with these people than you initially thought.
- Always say good morning and good night: It’s office etiquette in its purest form. This seems very minimal but doing something like this will make your coworkers know that you are there and that you care. Showing some interest will help you feel more comfortable and may help you to find some common ground, even in the most male-dominated industries
- Make sure everyone feels comfortable: The best way to make your mark as a woman is to make sure new people feel comfortable in the office. As more new employees start, they will begin to think of you as the office leader. The more people that think of you as a leader without the title of one, the more ground you have to show for that when it comes time for a promotion or raise.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for more money or a promotion: When you feel like you’re ready for a raise or promotion, chances are you’ll be asking a male boss, and it can get intimidating. But if you’ve been with a company for a while, and you are clearly considered a leader, don’t be shy. Make your expectations clear and clearly state why you think you deserve it. Most employers aren’t going to give you a raise or the job you desire unless you’re authoritative. Your boss can’t argue when it comes to facts and production, so take the time to figure those out. The more ammo you have, the better chance you have of winning the fight.