It’s no secret that if you work in male-dominated industries like Oil & Gas, Tech or STEM-related professions, it can be challenging to find your path. Women have made significant headway over the last 50 years, now making up approximately 57% of the US labor force and are earning more graduate degrees than their male counterparts. However, only 26% of employees in computer and mathematical jobs are women, and female employees are still earning $.78 to the dollar compared to men. (See my thoughts on the pay gap and other issues affecting woman in the workplace here.) There are various reasons for the disparity and much work to be done to bridge the gap. Getting engaged and taking the following steps can potentially move the issue forward and help women thrive:
- Stand Up For Yourself – It’s common for women to be passive in the workplace. Standing up for yourself is critical, from daily meetings to getting the promotion for which you’ve worked so hard. For years, I was leading projects, teams and our solution, and still felt self-doubt. Research done by Ehrlinger and Dunning shows that while men and women perform at similar levels, women underestimate their abilities and performance, while men overestimate both. I believe that if women can close the confidence gap, the pay gap will follow.
- Know Your Value – The corporate world has been abuzz with closing the pay gap over the last 10+ years. Corporate advocates, Hollywood leading ladies and business leaders like Sheryl Sandberg have been vital in pushing the issue forward. While these women bring awareness, we need to continue the work within our everyday lives. We must recognize our value within our organizations. Once we accomplish that, we can begin to conquer whatever fears are holding us back.
- Find What Lights You Up – If nothing motivates you to get going in the morning, it’s hard to thrive in the workplace. This is not to say that you have to quit and go all in on your passion project or side-hustle. Whatever role you are in, aim to find something that sparks a light within you. Earlier in my career, I loved process improvements and solution productization and that is what I looked forward to everyday. Now, I love working with our team and helping them operate efficiently together. Having something that you feel deeply connected to within your job is key to bringing out your strengths.
To all of the women who are struggling to get recognized, are feeling undervalued and getting overlooked for the next promotion, I encourage you to believe in yourself and to step into your strength. And just as importantly, for the women who have gotten ahead, stop and help the women in your organization, your division or your team. Extending a hand or lending an ear can go farther than you can image. At the end of the day, we are all in this together, and together we will thrive.
Photos by Megan Weaver