As a woman with a technical degree, I am very often the only woman on a project. Most of the time I am not treated any differently, but it’s still important to recognize that there are differences between working with men and women. Keep a these in mind to be confident from the moment you enter the room.
It starts with a firm hand shake and confidence. I make it a personal goal to exceed expectations. If you have a softer voice, make an effort to speak louder to ensure that your voice is heard. Make a lot of eye contact, and listen to your peers. Be confident in your ideas, and don’t let others talk over you.
GET TO KNOW THEM
As with any workplace, the time spent at your job will likely be more enjoyable if you can turn your coworkers into friends. You may already feel like the black sheep as the only woman, but don’t let that stop you from chatting with them. If your coworkers often talk about a specific topic, like sports or cars, start paying attention and chiming in. Ask questions, show you’re interested. Get lunch with them when you can. Share your interests with them as well – you might be surprised about how much they know about your favorite topics.
Try to keep your emails as short as possible. If a sentence or detail isn’t 100% necessary, then delete it. I have noticed that my male managers are more direct and tend to leave out background information, while my female managers will give more details before addressing take-aways. Avoid being the one who “talks too much” in emails, and try to get to your point as quickly as you can. My fiancé has a habit of only responding to the last question I ask him if I send him a series of texts, so I always make sure that all of my questions are clearly laid out at the end of my messages.
“Mansplaining” is a term used for when men feel the need to talk over and explain something to women in a condescending way. Don’t let them talk down to you. Speak up, and share what you know. Provide your opinions, and don’t let them interrupt you. This may be difficult if you are shy, but you cannot let your good ideas go unheard. Bring up your thoughts once they finish, and repeat your ideas if necessary.
I work in a technology field primarily with men. I have read articles about the benefits of blending in – wearing pants more of the time, or learning about their interests. However, I think it’s important to be yourself. I wear skirts and heels to work, because that’s what I prefer. I talk about my new work totes and wedding planning all the time, and nobody seems to mind. If you’re a girly girl, stay one. If you’re a tomboy, that’s fine too.
It’s important to show confidence, because unfortunately at times women are still not taken seriously. However, there are many benefits to being the only woman – because you’re unique, they are more likely to remember your name. Use the fact that you stand out to your advantage, and your work will pay off. Show off your skills and be yourself!
Ever dealt with being the only woman in the office? Tell us about it in the comments! And try swiping to meet a new vina, so you can vent all about your mansplaining manager!