The Only Woman In the Workplace


The Only Woman In the Workplace

It is evident that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are all male dominated occupations. Women make up about half of the total U.S, college-educated workforce, but they only account for 29 percent in the science and engineering workforce.

Stanford engineering graduate, Debbie Sterling, noticed that the percentage of women in engineering was extremely low. Sterling began researching the low numbers and found that girls started to lose interest in math and science at around age eight, but they seemed to excel in subjects such as reading and writing. This discovery led Sterling to produce a product called GoldieBlox. GoldieBlox is a construction kit for girls that includes the story of a girl inventor who loves to build things. Sterling wanted to break the stigma that women didn’t belong in STEM and in 2014 GoldieBlox received the Toy of the Year Award.

Like Debbie Sterling’s initiative to promote female growth in STEM fields, there are many organizations that encourage women’s interest in STEM as well. It seems that encouraging female participation in these areas will help to close the gender gap as it relates to income. STEM careers offer significantly higher salary positions than non-STEM careers. It is estimated that women in STEM positions are making 33 percent more than women who are not in these fields.

Being that there are fewer women in STEM fields, it is more probable that many of these women are the only ones in the room at their job, or are one of the few women in the room. As a woman in a maledominated field, it could be difficult to assert yourself when dealing with male colleagues. One in five women report that they are often the only woman, or one of the only women, in the room at work, according to the “Women in the Workplace” report from McKinsey & Company and

If you do find that you’re “the only woman” in the room and you need a few tips on thriving in a male-dominated atmosphere, then here are a few tips to get you through it.

Stop thinking about being “the only woman” in the room
It may be true that you’re outnumbered by the men at your company, but don’t let that consume your thoughts or let it change the authenticity in the way you do business. Remember that your employer hired you because you bring something valuable to the company. Worrying about being the only woman in the company could possibly affect your work in a negative way and the last thing you want to do is slack off in how you produce or manage your work.

You can say “No”
Just because you’re the only woman, it doesn’t mean that you have to be the “yes woman.” If you already have loads of work to do and a co-worker asks you to take on another task, it’s ok to politely say no. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad co-worker or employee. Saying no helps you avoid taking on too many tasks at once and ultimately allows you to give the necessary attention to projects that are already in the works.

Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor could be a great way to learn the ropes if you’re new to a company. A mentor can teach you about company culture, give you details on the boss’s expectations and give you the rundown on co-workers. A mentor would also be a great person to give insight on the projects you’re working on and how they would be beneficial to the company.

Choose your Circle Wisely
Although you may be the only woman in the workplace, you can still create a circle of allies and friends. Surround yourself with co-workers who are more interested in your work rather than your gender. Hang with people who promote growth in your personal and professional life. Simply said, surround yourself with people who want to see you win. Having a great, positive team around can make your day-to-day work routine less hectic and increase your job performance.

If you’re in a male dominated workplace, remember that you have something valuable to offer just like your male colleagues. Continue to put forth your best effort and assert yourself when needed. Forget about being “the only woman” in the room and be the woman that’s taking the initiative to produce great work.

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