Success in a male-dominated industry? 13 ways for women to make it happen

All industries need a balance of women and men working alongside each other, as both genders bring different viewpoints and opinions to the table. In a male dominated industry or company, as in any, if women have a goal and are willing to work hard and be reliable, they can achieve great things.

But it does help to learn from those who’ve worked in such places before you. I’ve worked on multi-billion dollar jobs and managed hundreds of employees in the construction and engineering sector, and picked up plenty of valuable lessons on how to excel in male-dominated industries.

Here are 13 of them:

  • Have a Game Plan: Starting anew in any workforce is intimidating, so it is overwhelmingly important to have a game plan of what you want to achieve in your new role and some key steps to assist in achieving these goals.
  • Be Interested: Show interest and passion for your chosen field and keep updated with the latest industry news. Ensure you are technically competent and capable of engaging with colleagues on discussions about the profession.
  • Know the Rules: Every workplace has a game of play and once you are aware of the rules surrounding your business, you will be in a powerful position. Make yourself familiar with the hierarchy and processes of the company and read over past annual reports. Also consider a mentor that can advise and guide you.
  • Fake it Til You Make it: Be confident in your skills and abilities and if you aren’t –fake it! Having a positive attitude about yourself, will give others the assurance that you will be a great contributor to their business and make your colleagues want to work with you.
  • Play the part: When you have identified your ‘dream position’, make a list of characteristics that are important for that position. For example, if you aim for a leadership role, you must implement the personality traits of a leader.
  • Show-off your strengths and work on your weaknesses: Don’t be afraid to undertake roles that show-off your key skills and attributes and find ways to mitigate your weaker points. Never be afraid to ask for help, remember the old saying – There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’.
  • Be Prepared: Organisational skills are important in every workplace and it makes your role far more rewarding when you are prepared and able to work efficiently.
  • Follow your gut: Using your intuition is something that is not often discussed, but remains such a powerful tool in problem solving, employee engagement and decision making.
  • Be genuine: Work towards gaining respect and trust from your team and manager by being appropriate, sincere, celebrating the successes of your colleagues and acknowledging your mistakes.
  • Lend a hand: Be willing to step outside of your role and assist colleagues, whether it be in an advisory or mentoring sense, or just lending a hand when someone has a lot on their plate.
  • Push yourself: If you have targets or KPIs, aim to exceed them. Don’t settle for average and work to the best of your ability.
  • Empower others: Let colleagues shine and encourage them to take responsibility in their own role. This is a proven way to develop strong relationships with your team and shows that you trust them.
  • Be a Decision maker: There is an art to decision making. One part is instinct, another is experience and the third is knowledge. Practice the skill of taking in information and overcoming issues or concerns that arise in a timely manner.

Dr. Collette Burke is a Civil Engineer and the Commercial Manager of Leighton Contractors Southern Region. With more than 20 years’ experience, she can provide recommendations on current management strategies, as well as inside knowledge on techniques to ensure overall project success. Women’s Agenda is Private Media’s brand new site for professional women. To check out the site and sign up for the FREE daily newsletter, click here.


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