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breaking the glass ceiling: 5 tips to succeed in male-dominated industries

Ever felt like you've hit an invisible barrier in your career? In male-dominated industries, many women encounter the same challenge: the glass ceiling. But what if you could break through it? Sanela Prodic-Brunner, Manager at EY, shares how to challenge stereotypes, champion your worth, and become a leader who drives meaningful change. This isn't just about surviving; it's about thriving and harnessing your unique perspective to become a powerful force in your field. Here's your guide to shattering barriers and stepping into leadership with confidence.

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"There have been numerous times when male colleagues advised me against taking on another project or initiative, believing I already had too much on my plate." - Sanela Prodic-Brunner

Navigating through male-dominated spaces, women often confront the pervasive challenge of being underestimated. Sanela acknowledges this struggle, recalling, "There have been numerous times when male colleagues advised me against taking on another project or initiative, believing I already had too much on my plate." Despite such discouragement, she underscores women's remarkable capacity for multitasking and effective time management. Embracing opportunities with determination, she excelled in diverse projects, noting, "Those decisions have been among my biggest achievements and have brought me where I am today."

But Sanela doesn't just stop there. She shares five practical tips women can use to navigate and rise within male-dominated industries, ensuring they not only survive but thrive in their careers.

5 practical tips women can use to navigate and rise within male-dominated industries

1.  find multiple mentors:

Build a network of mentors who can provide diverse guidance in various skills essential to your role, such as technical expertise, communication, and negotiation. Sanela suggests, "Mentors can provide career guidance, give feedback on your skills or performance, and even help you navigate politics at the workplace." For example, consider joining programs like ‘the female factor mentoring program’, where you can browse through 250+ inspiring mentors, sharing their knowledge and insights to get you ahead in your career.

2.  promote your achievements:

Promoting your achievements is a critical aspect of career advancement, yet many women tend to downplay their accomplishments. Sanela underscores the importance of ensuring that your contributions and their impact are duly recognized. "It's important to let others know about your work and its impact on the company," she says. This recognition not only validates your efforts but can also significantly influence your career progression. By actively advocating for your work, you position yourself as a valuable asset within the organization, which can open doors to new opportunities and responsibilities.

3.  keep learning:

In today's fast-paced industries, particularly in technology, continuous learning is imperative for staying relevant. “Staying updated with the latest trends or skills can give you an edge," Sanela emphasizes. By investing in ongoing education and skill development, you not only enhance your own capabilities but also position yourself as an adaptable and forward-thinking professional. This commitment to learning demonstrates your dedication to personal growth and professional excellence, qualities highly valued in any organization.

4.  be yourself:

Authenticity is a cornerstone of success in both professional and personal spheres. While conforming to norms may seem like the path of least resistance, Sanela stresses the importance of staying true to oneself. “While it can seem easier to blend in, it's ultimately crucial to remain true to yourself,” Sanela recommends. “Your unique perspective and abilities can provide refreshing insights and bring added value to your team and company.”

5.  be confident:

Maintaining confidence and resilience, especially when feeling outnumbered or overlooked, starts with self-belief. "Remind yourself of your skills, achievements, and value," Sanela advises. She also highlights the importance of taking time for self-care and seeking support from mentors or networks. "Nurture a positive outlook and view challenges as growth opportunities."

a call to bridge the gap

Sanela calls for inclusive policies that prioritize quality and results rather than hours worked. "There is a perception that women returning from maternity leave aren’t as interested in their careers," she says, urging organizations to provide equal opportunities for women regardless of maternity status. Companies should create policies supportive of work-life balance, demonstrating that women can pursue fulfilling careers without compromising personal responsibilities.

Meanwhile, she provides women with a straightforward yet powerful reminder of their worth and potential: "Believe in yourself and your abilities. You have just as much right to be in a leadership role as anyone else." Don't shy away from challenges. Instead, use them as stepping stones, push past prejudices, and let your work speak for itself. Embrace your diverse perspective, as it strengthens your leadership approach and challenges outdated norms.

about Sanela:

Sanela Prodic-Brunner, a Manager at EY, is a seasoned professional in technology

consulting and transformation. With her unique insights and unwavering determination, Sanela has proven that women can excel and lead effectively in challenging environments. Her practical advice and experiences offer invaluable guidance to women aspiring to rise and make a significant impact in their careers.


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