Thriving in a Male-Dominated Work Environment
By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
The professional of dietetics is more than 90% female, skewing the culture in which many RDs historically work. As you join the retail ranks, you’re quickly moved from a female-centric work environment to a male-dominated one. To be successful in this culture, it’s essential to learn to navigate this environment.
Here are some tips:
Speak up in meetings and stop apologizing: According to a 2014 study published in Harvard Business Review, women are much less likely than men to speak up in meetings. The same study found that when women did speak up, they apologized repeatedly and allowed themselves to be interrupted.
Take credit for your work. While it’s important to acknowledge everyone’s accomplishments, refusing to accept responsibility for the positive role you play on key projects and impacting company sales and profits won’t inspire confidence in your abilities.
Realize beer is for bonding. Don’t waste time and energy complaining about the way men network. If they choose to engage in activities outside the office, you have a choice in whether you join in or not. But remember, it’s unlikely that all the men attending actually enjoy watching football or playing golf any more than you do. Instead, some of them are likely joining in simply because they want to advance their careers.
Challenge Gender Roles. Stanford’s Business School discovered that women who exhibited “masculine traits,” such as aggressiveness and confidence, and were able to self-monitor their behavior, received 1.5 more promotions than men exhibiting similar qualities.
Ask for the Project. Women tend to take stretch assignments or apply for promotions only when they have the majority of the skills needed where as men will seek opportunities based on the belief they can excel in the role. Be strategic in asking for roles on high-profile projects, ensuring you are seen as a mover and a shaker in your company.
Don’t be the Yes Woman. It’s important to stand up for the projects you really want to work on, and then push back at other times when you don’t have capacity.