‘Non-traditional’ careers for women may be considered ones that are typically male-dominated. Women have been successful, more recently, in stepping into “male-dominated” careers–or careers where women comprise less than one-quarter of the demographic. Shockingly, these sectors range from politics to engineering, technology and everything in between.
While many women may be put off by entering into these careers because the demographic is so low, it is doable. There are plenty of ways to take initiative and do whatever career you have your heart set on, whether that means you’re one of the only females or not.
Below are four pieces of advice that will help you circumvent the guys and break barriers.
Study The Career in College
One reason why non-traditional, or male-dominated, occupations still exist is that female students don’t typically study for these careers while in college. A UNESCO study shows that only 35% of women students worldwide choose to take STEM courses. That means a massive 65% of men go on to take up the best jobs in these fields.
The good news is that there is a niche for women who are qualified in the field. More employers realize the importance of diversifying, which means minorities with a degree will be at the top of the list for job offers. Great news if you’re a female looking to join one of these career paths!
Find A Niche
When stereotypes are too harsh to breakdown, you shouldn’t give up and pass the process off as impossible because it’s definitely not! Instead, you can simply find a gap in the market that allows you to gain experience. Sometimes–okay usually–a female is needed for a different viewpoint, to bring different skills, to give their insight, etc. Find your niche! These opportunities are available in even the most male-dominated sectors, including STEM careers and even construction.
As a site safety manager, you play a significant part in the project, and you’re not at the bottom of the ladder. Even better, every site needs a safety official, so these roles aren’t few and far between. There are even instructor courses run by women to make the process less intimidating. If it’s the career path you’ve chosen or one that you are interested in, don’t let the male dominance scare you away!
Don’t Ask, Tell
Men and women share a trait, and it’s waiting for opportunities to be handed to you rather than taking them. For the ladies, it’s more crucial that there is no asking involved. What you have to do is tell your boss that you want more responsibility. They are likely going to hand it off to someone (and probably a male if that’s the majority), so if you want it put your foot forward and take it!
The way some managers work is outdated, handing out the best projects to the people who grind them into submission. It’s a way for bosses to get them off their backs. Although it’s not how quality leaders operate, it is systematic of some workplaces. So, you must play the game and let the higher-ups understand that you’re the person for the role. If you want more responsibility, just be straight up and tell your boss.
Support the Women
Offices are sort of like dog-eat-dog environments where the fittest people consume the opposition. It could be tempting to fall into this mindset because you are desperate to prove yourself at all costs. Sadly, it alienates the other women in the workplace.
It’s better to team up as a group than to compete against each other as rivals. As women working in a male-dominated career, you want to empower each other and help each other when possible rather than working against one another. Whether you mentor other women or get mentored, the trick is to look out for your mutual interests.
If years of history has taught us anything, it’s that the men won’t do it! If you’re interested in a career that is dominated by males, don’t let that intimidate you. There are many ways to get your foot in the door and prove that anything men can do, women can do too.
Alyson Pittman is a contributing writer for WBD and a JR marketing associate for Excite Creative Studios, an Atlanta-based creative agency.
Alyson graduated from Kennesaw State University with a Bachelors of Business Administration and a concentration in Marketing. She was in multiple organizations at KSU where she held leadership positions. As a part of the Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority, Alyson held the Social Coordinator position and planned/promoted large events.