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how to succeed in male-dominated industries

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

Have you ever struggled to make your voice heard? Have you felt like you have to work harder to prove you deserve your seat at the table? Or encountered either unconcealed or subtle form of discrimination? These are the most common challenges faced by women working in male-dominated industries.

It is no wonder many women put their dream careers aside and follow a different path - McKinsey Global Institute’s 2019 Women in the Workplace report shows how, across industries, women are often prevented from reaching C-suite positions. Only 72 women are promoted for every 100 men. Not surprisingly, the report also finds that companies which embrace gender and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to outperform their industry averages than others.

But women’s job growth is driven by employment in male-dominated fields globally, hence the economy needs change in these industries to thrive.

We gathered a few pieces of advice to help you in your job pursuit when it comes to male-dominated industries.

biggest challenges women face in the workplace

STEM jobs have predominantly been male-dominated over the years. Women's presence on board directors in the information technology business remains low compared to other companies (including non-STEM). Women made up less than a third (29.3%) of individuals working in scientific research and development globally in 2016. In the information technology industry, they make up only 16% of managers globally. The gender disparity persists in the C-suite, with women accounting for only 3% of CEOs.

the standstill gender pay gap

The overrepresentation of women in relatively low-paying industries and underrepresentation in higher-paying sectors (often male-dominated industries) is one of the major causes of the gender pay gap. In 2018, there were 59% more male scientists and engineers than female scientists and engineers in the EU on average.

The salary gap between men and women in the EU is 14.1%, and it has not changed in the last decade. This translates to women earning on average 14.1% less per hour than men.

failure of implementing female-friendly workplace policies

One of the issues that women face is the ineffectiveness of workplace policies, which range from maternity and paternity leave to development opportunities. According to Women in the Workplace study, 42% of women do not believe that advancement mechanisms provide them with enough resources to advance in their careers.

Every second woman in the United Kingdom believes she cannot have children without jeopardizing her career.

When women do return to work, they claim they miss out on promotions and opportunities. Childcare is also a challenge, as some women cannot afford to return to work or find it difficult to balance work and childcare.

the macro effects of microaggression

Microaggression has been recorded by 64% of women at work. Microaggressions may take the form of everyday sexism or racism, as well as oblique remarks that go unnoticed. In comparison to men, 40% of black women said their judgment has been challenged in their field of expertise, compared to just 27% of men.

Women who are subjected to these microaggressions are three times more likely to consider leaving. And yes you guessed it, this especially is common in fields and professions traditionally occupied by men.

imposter syndrome - one of the main hindrances to climbing up the ladder

Imposter Syndrome, the inability to acknowledge success and extreme feelings of self-doubt, is a prevalent phenomenon in today's culture, affecting both men and women.

Studies show that women will only consider a position if they meet 100% of the requirements, while men are ready to try if they only fulfill 60% of what is asked. To prevent excluding female candidates from joining a company or raising their interest in a promotion, HR managers and leaders must be aware of these gender differences. By implementing regular bias trainings (especially in environments with more men) decision-makers can ensure that qualified women are not overseen when handing out promotions and opportunities.

women:men ratio in classical male-dominated industries

In the EU, females outnumber males in personal care, cleaning, and teaching, while males outnumber females in the construction, transportation industry, and science.

facts on MINT-studies (male vs female students)

A scatter plot of countries based on their number of female STEM graduates and their Global Gender Gap Index (y-axis), a measure of opportunities for women (Psychological Science).

how to succeed in a male-dominated profession

In order to help you better navigate the workplace in a male-dominated industry, we've compiled this list for you:

let your voice be heard & speak with confidence

Recognize the value of your opinion and believe that what you have to share is worth listening to.

stop trying to be a pleaser

It's nice to be nice, but always trying to please others won't get you anywhere. Instead of serving or promoting you, it belittles you and leaves an impression that you're unsure of yourself.

know your worth and make sure you make it obvious for other people too

Take a class, read a book - do everything you can to distinguish yourself and grow professionally.

learn how to handle conflict

Instead of engaging in conflict or avoiding it, learn to communicate forward by acknowledging the conflict and asking, "So how do we move past this?" Keep it professional. Don't email when you are angry and don't read emotion or tone into texts, emails, or directives. Once the conflict is over, shake hands, hold your head high, and get back to work.

don't be afraid to ask for a raise or promotion

Make your expectations clear and state in simple terms why they should be met with authority.

find a mentor

Look for mentoring opportunities in your workplace by building strong relationships with your boss and other senior leaders. Pay particular attention to cultivating relationships with the individuals who believe in you and who publicly support you.

find an employer that supports you as a woman

A strong support network within the workplace and an employer that is aware of the challenges women face in a male-dominated industry is the first step to succeed as a woman. Wien Energie e.g. started their "Inspiratorinnen program", a mentoring program exclusively for women. Furthermore, they founded an internal female network "women@WienEnergie", where they discuss the future of work, teamwork, and career topics on a regular basis.

As the female factor we are working closely with industry leaders who emphasize the importance of women in the workplace. You can go see all of them here.

You deserve your place at the table

The time has come to let go of the idea of “male-dominated” industries, as women have the power to break these stereotypes and excel in any field. With the help of men as allies and as more women stand together and strive to overcome these norms, the closer equality between sexes in the workplace can become a reality. An important note to take with you:

Workplace discrimination are not to be overlooked, especially when it hinders one's professional success and growth. Do not start your career with the hunting thought that your gender is the obstacle in the way of your ascent towards your dream profession. Acknowledge the female factors you've been naturally instilled with and make them work for you.

the female factor teams up with Wien Energie

Wien Energie is a subsidiary of the municipal utility Wiener Stadtwerke and is Austria's largest regional energy provider. They reliably serve two million people with environmentally sustainable power, cooling, heating, electromobility, and telecommunications. Wien Energie GmbH’s take on female empowerment & driving diversity is to be innovative, having expertise, motivation, and employee diversity are the main keys. Especially in their technical division, their goal is to support women from the very beginning.

Wien Energie’s women in management ratio is around 30% with a major goal in continuously increase the ratio.


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