Gaining respect in a male dominated industry
Wednesday 2 November 2022
By Jenna Hill, Managing Director of CHILL Gas Ltd.
Kamala Harris being the first female Vice President of the United States was a landmark stage for women across the world, not just the US. More recently, we’ve seen Liz Truss prompt department from Downing Street however I still can’t help but smile at the thought of another woman across parliamentary doors.
There are those roles that women have either found it difficult to break into or have been traditionally associated with men. From Fireman Sam to Postman Pat, history has outlined male dominated roles but women now are breaking down those barriers.
With more and more women moving into traditionally male dominated sectors e.g. STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) the number of us having to navigate and garner respect in male dominated industries is increasing. As the Managing Director of CHILL Gas Ltd, a plumbing and heating firm, I work in a largely male dominated industry. Over the past number of years I found a number of tactics that have helped me, and the women I work with, to gain that level of respect guaranteed to our male counterparts, to help shift the feelings of inadequacy.
So how can we all thrive in a male dominated industry?
Know Your Stuff
There is no denying, at some point you may feel inadequate be it through your own fears or the actions of others. However, I firmly believe, knowledge is power. As with any meeting, if you go in prepared and know your stuff, you will have the tools available to be able to stand your ground and gain respect.
Have a Support Network
Be it a colleague, group of colleagues or a group such as Women in Business with specific networking events, having a group of like-minded, supportive counterparts is invaluable. Whether it is to vent, bounce ideas of or to learn from, these individuals will be the sounding board you need to progress in your career.
Play to Your Strengths
Sometimes there are those gender presumptuous attitudes that can actually help you in work. Be it having a bit more of a softly softly approach, being the one that others confide in, your empathy or your listening skills, use it to your advantage. You never know when it will be the skill that your company needs.
Do you remember who inspired you to end up in the career or job you are in now? Keep them in mind in all that you do. Use them as an illustration of how to get where you want to be.
Don’t be the Yes Woman
If you can do it, great, if you can’t, say so. People pleasing is probably my biggest downfall and something that has got me into more trouble, promising things I can’t deliver. Now I am realistic and ultimately end up helping more people than I would’ve by people pleasing.
We all know them. The men in our organisations that will bump you up and advocate for you. Know them, recognise them and work with them to earn the respect of others.
Own your body language. We have all seen it, time and time again someone being given the opporunity they have wanted and their body language signally that they are nervous or fearful. While you may not be a body language expert, we can all pick up on it quickly. Do your best to chuck your nerves to the side and use your body language to depict confidence and knowledge.
Whilst having to work to achieve respect in the industry that you work in can be difficult and won’t be a quick fix, it will be worth it. I am proud to work in the industry that I do and whilst there aren’t too many women by my side there are a lot more than there were when I started and I can’t wait to see the impact these women will bring to the sector.
To keep up to date with Jenna, connect with her on LinkedIn or check out Chill Gas' website.
Wednesday 2 November 2022