For Women: Shining in a Workplace Dominated by Men

In many developed countries of the world women are beginning to cross boundaries and limitations of work and are occupying (as well as doing well) in positions previously seen as strictly for men. That there has been progress for women in the workplace in Nigeria is certain but it is still a men’s world out there. The 2010 Women’s World data on Labour force participation showed that men comprise of over 60% of the active labour force. In 1990 however the percentage was as high as 75%.

Clearly more women are becoming absorbed into the work place but any woman with the ambition to reach the zenith of her career would surely have to contend with a few men.

This article is not a call to war neither does it seek to make female career individuals see the male folk as obstacles. Rather it is aimed at helping the female worker to unleash the qualities and talents within and stretch beyond limitations in achieving their career goals and objectives.

To shine in a work place dominated by men here are a few tips to get you started;

Choose the Right Profession

While I do no want to subscribe to the argument that some professions are not meant for women I do however feel that each woman should rather not go for the sort of career where too much physical exertion and show of strength is required unless they are adequately equipped to contain the demands and grow in such careers. Choosing the right career is more about reflecting on what you are much more likely to enjoy doing. Choosing the right career also involves taking consideration of your emotional make-up (women are generally believed to be more emotional susceptible at work than men) and going for a career that will not require much emotional exhaustion and upheavals.

More especially for women there is likelihood that when you do what you enjoy or have passion for the possibility for success becomes more real.

Don’t Change Who You Are; Just Communicate More Effectively

Trying to change who you are so as to fit in and progress as much as the men do in the organisation is not a wise thing to do. Be yourself and approach dealings with the men folk with civility. Don’t come from the position of a weakling or someone to be pitied for. Cultivate your qualities and make your value show to those that matter.

In communicating with your co-workers and seniors make sure you do not send wrong signals that can influence men to see you as something other than a talented, hardworking woman who deserves all the respect. At the workplace there is always the danger of a woman being seen as little more than an appealing symbol. Dress and carry yourself the way you want to be addressed.

Get Mentorship and Training

In a recent study one of the identified barriers to the career advancement of women to top management positions was lack of mentorship/fewer opportunities for training and development. Obviously it is more difficult for an aspiring career woman to find worthy mentors in her field compared to her male counterpart. Women have reportedly preferred senior women as their mentors than men, as they looked forward to role modeling though many women also have worked with male mentors successfully as long as the mentor – mentee relationship is kept within boundaries by both parties. Finding a worthy mentor for yourself can be a daunting task but you would benefit greatly if you had successful men and women in your field you learn from.

Plan Your Family Responsibilities

Many females have reached the pinnacles of their careers at the detriment of their families and their health. A good number of women have problems with juggling roles as mothers, housewives, home-makers and
managers at work. For women it is more difficult joggling responsibilities of work and the home. A good reason why many organisations hesitate to empower women and entrust them with more managerial responsibilities is the conflict they envisage between their work and family responsibilities. While there may not be much to do in this regard as an aspiring career woman you can plan your family responsibilities with your husband including making plans for child planning and house keeping. Having an easy to follow plan will help you keep track of your career trajectory and increase your chances at building an enviable career.

Persevere and Be Determined

Sometimes as a woman working in some men dominated areas your voice could easily be drown in the midst of male chatter. Your opinions may be overlooked until you push and push. At the risk of being termed overbearing some career women have learnt to force their male co-workers to respect their contributions in the workplace. To succeed the way you want you have to have perseverance and determination.

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