Being a Woman in a Male Dominated Industry

If you happen to work as a woman in a male dominated industry, you might encounter sexist attitudes from time to time. Here's how to handle it like a boss.

My main profession happens to make me a bit of an outcast. That’s goes with the territory when you’re a woman in a male dominated industry.

On most days, I’m not affected by sexism. But just this week I had an incident that really burned me. Someone told me on the phone that something was “really technical” and maybe I didn’t understand how “technical” the process was going to be. The words don’t look so bad in type but his tone was exceedingly condescending.

I held my cool while I was speaking the gentleman, but I was so hot when I hung up the phone. I’m a woman, not an idiot, I thought to myself.

I got over it. I moved on and got my job done because it needed to get done. I don’t run across that kind of attitude very often, because I’ve changed over the years and learned to cope with the idea that a woman doesn’t know as much as a man. And most men have changed over the years to accept women as their equals.

Coping mechanisms for a woman in a male dominated industry

  1. First, I fib. I pretend I know more about things than I do for fear that someone will judge me for being a woman. Then I learn about it very quickly so next time I will truly be able to hold my own.
  2. Second, I just get over it. Most of the time. You have to in order to keep your sanity and in order to finish your job. Let them think what they want about your abilities. You know the truth.
  3. Third, I prepare for it. If I know a rep is coming in or I’m going to have to speak to someone on the phone who has been tough to deal with in the past, I prepare. I know I’m going to have to have a shield up for anything said. I need to know at least as much as they do, hopefully more, about whatever subject we are going to be discussing. And I know that I need to do a good job despite having someone working against me.

If you’re a woman in a male dominated industry, do you encounter sexist behavior and comments? Please share a tip on how to handle the situation.

4 thoughts on “Being a Woman in a Male Dominated Industry

  1. Ohhhh lorrrd. I would like to chime in with my coping mechanism for such situations: humor. I laugh at the ridiculous sexist notion, both to make the perpetrator feel ridiculous and to make myself feel better. Laughter does wonders for many woes of the world.

    1. I laugh more in private. At night, my husband and I and check the “scores” so we aren’t out of the loop when dealing with the more sporty individuals. Especially living in Dallas Cowboy’s corner! I’ve also gotten over a lot of stereotypes. Not every man is out to get you and not every woman in a male dominated industry is unfeminine. Honestly, I wanted to reach through the phone and strangle that man.

  2. Kassandra says:

    I can totally relate to this post. As a woman in construction, I have heard ALMOST all of it. From “Darlin, did you get this job just because your daddy works for the company?” to “Man I miss the days when women weren’t allowed on construction sites, I never had to watch what I said”. Its exhausting coming up with witty/sarcastic responses! I do it almost every time though. The best part is the laughter from those who overheard the comments. It’s truly enjoyable to make eye contact afterwards with someone with less experience (or even more, really) and see that they understand that you don’t have to sit still and take the chauvinistic remarks. I love it more than you know. Then I go home and tell my husband that some punk hurt my feelings, and he helps me plan their imaginary destruction. Ignorance exists everywhere, and coping with it in a healthy way is key to not letting it drive you crazy. Thanks for the post!

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