As women who live in what many like to label, “a man’s world,” it can be a challenge to take the ball in what seems to be a reoccurring game of the sexes — as well as keep it in our court. While we expand our heel-prints in spaces that make the notorious “Boy’s Club” uncomfortable, there are challenges that lie behind the equalizers of hard work and perseverance. Yet, with a game plan and poker-face to match, we can keep the focus on ourselves in spaces that attempt at shutting us out.
Stand Firm in your Words
Taking on male-dominated fields can be intimidating to anyone—especially when you don’t see enough representation of yourself walking through the long, brooding hallways alongside you. Yet, standing in that fear can make us easy targets when it comes to sharing opinions and suggestions freely. Instead of standing in doubt, stand in assurance—let them know that by the firmness of your words, the clarity of your thoughts, and the raise of your head that you deserve a seat at the table, and a voice in the conversation as much as they do.
With assurance comes great preparation, nothing screams “I know what I’m talking about,” more than actually knowing what you’re talking about. Being prepared makes you feel good enough to interject when something doesn’t sound right in a meeting, or when you have something else to add on because you know you can back it up. Having a few notes by your side, or in your head is one of the best weapons to have in a team meeting because you’ll always be ready if anything happens. Always listening and being aware of what is going on is a great tool to use as well in referencing others and staying on your toes.
Know Your Audience
Getting familiar with your co-workers is a key tip in taking control in meetings. There’s an advantage to mingling in the office, even if it’s minimal. You may not think you have anything in common, but everyone always has that one thread that they can connect with each other. Collaboration is better than competition, and knowing your audience gives you an advantage of knowing how to talk to them.
Remember that you deserve it
Never forget that you deserve to be where you are and that the only person that can take that feeling away from you is yourself. One of the things that keep our shoulders high is trusting that we are where we are for a reason, and that reason being that we’re equipped, smart, and experienced enough for it. Don’t let anyone downplay your progress, intelligence, or hustle—not even yourself, because the minute we stop believing—we become all who have doubted us in our journey to the top.