Women’s Work in a Male Dominated Environment

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Business Outdoors

President Barack Obama and the National Women’s’ Law Center promote efforts to encourage women and girls to prepare for nontraditional fields, realizing the importance of fighting gender inequality in career preparation, math and sciences, and vocational and apprenticeship programs. Despite the fact that women earn an average of 33 percent more when they work in the high growth fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, they make up only 24 percent of the STEM workforce according to the Department of Commerce. They are also underrepresented in construction, where they made up only 2.6 percent of the construction trade’s workforce in 2010, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Success factors for women working in male-dominated careers include getting the training and qualifications needed to do the work and advance, looking for employers who support women, and finding a mentor.

Get Qualified

The Pew Research Center reports that women in the workforce in 2012 have achieved near-parity with men in terms of salary, earning 84 to 97 percent of the pay that men earn. This pay equity is due in large part to educational attainment and labor force participation. Getting qualified with training and education is a definite success factor for women in male-dominated work, whether for professional or technical/vocational careers. Prepare yourself to work and compete with male counterparts in positions and industries that are traditionally male-dominated for a sustainable and successful career. Either the traditional educational route with a four-year degree, or a focused technical or vocational training program from a career school like Penn Foster can prepare you to enter the working world in male-dominated industries such as HVAC or other construction trades.

Seek Organizations That Support Women

The Anita Borg Institute reports that women leave technology companies twice as much as men, for reasons ranging from poor working conditions to lack of work-life integration to a dislike of work climate or boss. Women who want to succeed in male-dominated industries and career paths need to look for organizations and employers that support women. The types of organizations that are supportive of women have mentoring programs, provide employee development opportunities, and offer work-life integration.

Find a Mentor

Women could benefit from mentors to help them navigate successful careers in male-dominated fields. Look for successful women in the industry, employer, or position you want, and contact them to ask questions, get advice, and network. Keep in touch and follow up with mentors to learn from them and to gain support and encouragement. Take mentors’ advice about how to deal with male-dominated leadership, patriarchal small business, and other issues you’ll face. In “There’s No Crying in Business: How Women Can Succeed in Male-Dominated Industries,” Roxanne Rivera urges women not to try to go it alone in male-dominated fields, explaining the need for a support network that includes mentors. She says the difficult positions women can find themselves in while working in male environments really require having someone to turn to, even if it’s only to vent or commiserate. Rivera emphasizes that the support of a mentor or network makes a significant difference in a woman’s job satisfaction and career success, especially if you’re the only woman in your workplace.

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