There’s no doubt that there are still many industries dominated by men. In fact, in the transportation and warehousing industry, the ratio of male to female workers stands at 5 to 1 in Canada. And in the construction industry, the ratio is 10 to 1 (Catalyst). If you’re a woman working in an industry similar to these, chances are you’ve experienced being the only female on your work team. Here are three things to keep in mind when this is the case.
- Fight the urge to blend in
Regardless of the situation, being the odd one out can be very intimidating, especially in a professional context, so your first instinct may be to lay low and go unnoticed or to try to fit in as much as possible. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with being a quiet person or a team player, but you shouldn’t feel forced to become ‘one of the guys’ if that’s not who you are. Your unique opinions and skills are an asset to your team, and you do a disservice to everyone by hiding them.
- Know that you may have to prove yourself
This shouldn’t be the case, at all. But the reality is, women in male dominated industries often have to work much harder to gain the same level of respect as their male colleagues. As much as we have progressed in terms of women’s rights in the workplace, we are still not where we need to be. So, until women are treated, compensated, and represented fairly, women will have to continue putting in that much more effort in order to earn the respect that should have been given to them in the first place.
- It’s okay to speak up
Don’t be afraid to not only be an active participant on your team, but also to stand up for yourself and other women. If someone makes a sexist comment, say something. If you’re being discriminated against, say something. Once again, you deserve the same amount of respect and the same quality of treatment as any other member of your team, so don’t settle for anything less.
Regardless of if your colleagues are excellent or intolerable, being the only woman on a team can be difficult. But remember, it is because of you that these imbalances in the workplace will slowly but surely become balanced.