Saturday, October 4, 2014

Male-Dominated IT Field? Who knew!

In my experience, working in a male-dominated field such as Information Technology (IT), can feel:

  • As daunting as being coerced to be part of a “herd,” 
  • Like a close-knit family with brothers looking out for you, their “sister”
  • Somewhere in between the two.

In these teams, as with any other team, there are Pros and Cons:
  • Work.  Your quality of work must be equal or, more likely, better than colleagues in the same position.
  • Perception.  You may be perceived as being “different” for a female...and you probably are.  Use it to your advantage.
  • Your Femininity. You might find yourself De-feminizing yourself just to be taken seriously.  Suck it up and do it on those days when you have the big meetings.  Conservative is the safe way.  Or, depending on your environment, use your femininity to your advantage.  It works both ways but ALWAYS in moderation.
  • Focused. You will become VERY focused on where you are and where you wish to be.  Otherwise you can become very depressed or some unfulfilled place in between
  • Intimidating. Some males (and females) will become visibly intimidated and try to undermine you in whichever way they can.  If you are focused on your work, reliable, and dependable,  some will try to find your weakness and attack.  Sad but true.  This will sometimes blatantly come from management…the most dangerous level.
  • Prove Yourself Repeatedly. Your work will speak for itself but you have to repeatedly prove yourself.  Means you have to keep updated/relevant and ahead of the game.  Always alert. Always a bit uncomfortable.  Means you keep growing.  Downside is that those that do not grow may increasingly become uncomfortable around you.   You must keep focused though.  The alternative is to become complacent.

Cons: Summarized for my experience in the video above.  This is a rare occurrence in my career that probably and hopefully won't ever happen to you...but the scenario exists in real life.  Thanks for watching.

Conquering the Challenge. Confidence has its rewards and pains.  It’s how you manage it that matters.  The pains strengthen you.  How well you develop that poker face and let some things roll off your back is important.  The reality is that if you allow it to be, then the world will be THEIRS.  But you are in this world, making it YOUR world too.  The opportunity is there to make an impressive impact as a female in a male-dominated profession.   Keep smiling through the pressure.  You wouldn't be there if pressure was not a big motivator.  Make it work for you.  Keep FOCUSED.