Today, most Americans consider women just as capable of leadership as men. Despite this, there are still a number of barriers that women have to navigate when they strive to advance their career. The glass ceiling continues to be a very real issue, particularly in male-dominated industries. Women feel they must put in extra effort to prove themselves because they are held to higher standards than men. Fortunately, there are many ways for women to position themselves as highly desirable candidates for leadership positions.
Be Ready for Gender Bias
Every woman in the workforce has experienced some form of gender bias. Women often receive pushback for “unfeminine” assertive traits in the workplace. But this doesn’t mean you have to conform to female stereotypes of being people-pleasing, nurturing, or apologetic. FastCompany recommends that women try to win people over with gender-neutral management characteristics. For example, focus on problem-solving, teamwork, and clear communication to display your leadership skills.
Know How to Respond to Sexism
Being the subject of sexist comments is uncomfortable and infuriating. Casual sexism against women in the workplace can be just as damaging as overt harassment, so women should deal with jokes or offhand comments by calling people out when it happens. Instead of remaining quiet, ask the speaker why they said such a thing. Say “that’s inappropriate” or question whether they would have said something like that to a man. This forces them to re-evaluate their own behavior and can help develop a culture of accountability and respect in your office.
According to Inc, women are less likely to speak up in meetings and tend to lack confidence when they do. Research has found that women are afraid to talk in a room full of men because they are concerned about being wrong, think they don’t have good ideas, and don’t want to appear aggressive. To overcome this, try to boost your confidence by coming prepared. Practice your talking points with a mentor or co-worker and prepare answers to questions that may come up in response to your pitch. Everyone feels uncertain when bringing a new idea to the group. Remember that your ideas have just as much value as anyone else’s and it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers.
Make Your Resume Stand Out
Whatever your gender, a well-written and eye-catching resume is essential for helping you stand out from other applicants in a competitive job market. With each position you apply for, update your resume with the unique skills that make you a particularly good fit for the job. Take advantage of online resume builders, like Zety, to highlight your skills and experience in the best way possible. These will guide you through the resume process and can be particularly useful if you’re new to the workforce.
Be the Best at Your Job
Try not to dwell on the fact that you’re a woman in your profession. Instead, focus on what anyone would need to do to excel in your industry, regardless of gender. Work hard, be a team player, and take initiative. Education is also a great way to set yourself apart for a position of leadership. Take night classes, attend conferences, and keep up to date with recent research in your field. Also, networking is a wonderful way to find mentors and job opportunities that better accommodate your career goals.
One of the most important things to remember as a woman in the workforce is to avoid comparing yourself to others. Whether you’re in a male-dominated industry or a female-dominated industry, focus on the things you’re good at, like producing high-quality work or collaborating with others. This will make your most valuable skills apparent to employers and give you the confidence to excel in your career.