Women are strong and independent creatures, but many women agree that starting a career in a male-dominated field can be intimidating. Expectations are different for women, and it’s not always easy to shake those day one jitters when it’s unclear how many obstacles you may face as a female leadership pioneer.
In fact, a Pew Research report, Women and Leadership, from November 2014 of 1,835 men and women found the top reasons business executive positions aren’t often awarded to women is because they’re held at a much higher standard than men.
Even though the statistics seem overwhelming, women have the power to not only push through their first days in their leadership role — but excel.
Here are a few tips to get you motivated:
Introduce yourself and begin building relationships.
For some of us, walking into a new job creates a fight or flight reflex. More often than not, we end up trying to hide in a corner until we can get fully acquainted with our new position. But you can’t begin to lead from a hiding place. Promptly establishing yourself as a new addition to the team will allow co-workers to quickly take you seriously as a leader.
Start out confidently by walking in and immediately making connections. Introduce yourself, but don’t forget to ask about the co-workers you meet. Now is the time to begin getting to know your team and allowing them to get to know you. Try striking up casual conversations to break tension with both genders and begin tearing down the gender barrier. Take a deep breath, stay calm, and be your natural talented self.
Seek out a mentor.
No matter what career path you’re on or how high on the ladder you climb, it’s important to have a strong mentor on your side. A mentor can help guide you through the ropes in the beginning, and is someone you can turn to when challenges arise because they already know how the organization runs.
When carefully picking out a mentor to coach you in your new career, look for someone who has succeeded on a similar path you wish to follow. Look for examples like these Top Women In Medical Sales in your company. They earned their way to the top of a male-dominated field and have dynamic first-hand experience that lends them to be ideal career mentors. After all, Pew’s Women and Leadership report found both women and men agree that women excel above men in being mentors.
Share your thoughts.
When you’re new to a working environment, it may seem safer to sit back, feel out the culture and determine your place among your colleagues before contributing. Observing how ideas are shared and received is a good way to learn who the thinkers and doers are on your team, but it’s also important to establish your voice.
Find commonalities among your peers. See where your ideas and opinions align, and also where they differ. Listen closely to each person’s thoughts to really get a feel for how you might learn from each other. It’s also important to express your own opinions, passions, and interests — both professionally and personally.
Put yourself out there as a thought leader from the very the start by confidently sharing your fresh viewpoint and ideas. Speaking up will show your experience and expertise, while listening closely to what others are saying lets everyone know you’re eager to be a part of the team.
Make your goals known.
Women are just as qualified as men in holding executive positions. Actually, Pew found that women in leadership roles are more capable of being honest and ethical, providing fair pay and benefits, and mentoring employees. These are all qualities of great leaders, but management needs to know how driven you are to continue moving up the chain — or else getting there will a bigger challenge.
Let leaders know where you hope this new career path leads from the very first day. If an opportunity doesn’t present itself as a straight line of succession, criss-cross your way up the ladder. You’ll only gain more experience. Never limit yourself by wondering if a new position is within reach — always go for it.
Discuss with leaders how often you’d like to have one-on-one meetings to chat about performance and expectations. These meetings will keep you accountable for those development goals. They’ll also keep your superiors informed on how dedicated you are to advancing your career with their company.
Some of the statistics about women in male-dominated fields may seem discouraging, but fear should never hold you back from chasing your dreams. Walk into the first day with confidence and prove you’re an asset and ready to lead.
What tips do you have for women in leadership who are starting their first day in a male-dominated field?