How Women Can Navigate Career Paths Dominated By Men

Stephen Greet
Stephen Greet May 6, 2021
How Women Can Navigate Career Paths Dominated By Men

Several career fields are less than welcoming to women. Yet, women are actively pursuing them and disrupting the “good ol’ boy” workplace norms.

Women are more than nurturers thrust into emotionally-charged careers — they demand fair representation in their professional lives. While most companies consider themselves committed — filling positions with men and women equally — a gender gap exists across many industries simply because postings aren’t created with equal opportunity in mind.

Although we’re making progress on closing the gender gap in many career paths, women still have to navigate a work environment where they’ll struggle to be respected, included, or accepted.

We’ll discuss why women need to pursue male-dominated careers and conclude with six ways you can best navigate career paths traditionally dominated by men.

Women Need to Pursue Male-Dominated Careers

Two women discussing their careers at yellow laptop

Male behaviors, values, and abilities have long been the standard to compare to in the workplace. Because of this, women are forced into the “good ol’ boys club” or are recognizably snubbed from entry. They’ve also reported a lack of respect shown for their perspectives and a noticeable distaste for their input.

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Women need to pursue male-dominated careers in order to keep up with evolving business needs across industries, honor their diverse talents, and acknowledge their varying interests. It’s also important because it’s the shift in workplace culture that male-dominated careers need to create an equal-opportunity work environment.

Women have something to offer on top of fulfilling domestic duties, raising children, and nurturing their relationships. They pride themselves on being quick learners, multitaskers, and flexible leaders who can adapt to the needs of the day. They offer a fresh perspective, emotional connection, problem-solving skills, and the ability to build relationships, all qualities of a productive worker in any field.

6 Ways to Navigate Career Paths Traditionally Dominated by Men

Woman exploring various career paths on blackboard

Focusing on diversity in the workplace isn’t just the right thing to do but the smart thing to do. A diverse workforce brings creativity across the company, serves a broader customer base, and offers an opportunity to learn from a multitude of perspectives. A laser focus on closing the gender gap in careers dominated by men furthers diversity and inclusion efforts.

While we’re fighting for long-term change in male-dominated workplaces, here are six ways you can best navigate career paths traditionally dominated by men:

Work for a company that prides itself on inclusion

Women should be able to maintain an appropriate work-life balance to raise families and successfully navigate a career path. Companies that pride themselves on inclusion, factor in the different roles men and women play in and outside the workplace.

Ensure you’ve chosen a company within your field that is transparent about its company culture and actively crafting a women-friendly workplace that wholly appreciates your capabilities and responsibilities.

Build a support system that consists of other women on the job

When working in a male-dominated workplace, you should ensure you have a support system in place to share your concerns, what you’re enjoying, and ways to further your roots in the company.

Having a solely female coworker support system may be beneficial because they’re most likely having similar experiences and can offer tips, resources, and contacts that have helped them through. 

Set boundaries with coworkers

Men and women naturally build relationships with one another that often end up romantic. It can be difficult for a man to treat a woman in a male-dominated career with any level of respect that has nothing to do with his sexual attraction to her.

According to Catalyst, “In a 2017 survey, 28% of women working in male-dominated industries stated they had personally experienced sexual harassment, compared to 20% of women in female-dominated industries.” So, set firm boundaries with your coworkers to prevent any type of harassment, and be sure to report anything you’re uncomfortable with.

Focus on the work

Women have to be intentional about reminding themselves why they chose their career path in the first place. Many of us embark on our career paths with an understanding of how difficult the workplace culture may be to navigate.

Focus on the work you do because that’s ultimately why you chose the career path in the first place.

Team up with male coworkers, don’t compete

Women also have an inherent competitive spirit similar to men, so it’s natural to want to compete for the top spot in the company. But women and men should stop trying to compete with each other and team up to achieve company goals.

Present yourself as a teammate ready to collaborate with male coworkers versus the next one up to take their position. This shows that you respect your coworkers’ experience and abilities. It also builds the trust necessary to productively coexist with the opposite sex in the workplace.

Harness confidence and use your voice

Part of your success in a male-dominated career path will be attributed to your confidence and ability to use your voice. As the only one or one of few women in the workplace, you have to believe in your abilities, but more importantly, in the fact that you belong there.

Use your voice to inject value into team conversations, suggest creative yet efficient solutions to company challenges, and show an interest in getting to know your coworkers.


Woman having come to a conclusion about her career path

Women should continue to pursue careers that are dominated by men and to challenge workplace norms founded on male behaviors, values, and abilities.

You can take actionable steps to successfully navigate male-dominated workplaces and, at the same time, fight for inclusivity and diversity across the board. Wholly honoring women in all industries, positions, and companies starts with you.