How to Excel in a Male Dominated Workplace

 In Career Tips

How to Excel in a Male Dominated WorkplaceIn her TED talk (which has gone viral), Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook talked about the scarcity of women in the corporate company restrooms and being mistaken for someone’s Indiana University Maurer School of Law 7.10.12assistant during her earlier career days. In reality, the boys club still exists in many careers so what’s a professional woman to do?

Jane Fang wrote a great piece in Forbes showing women how they can take control and excel in male dominated workplaces with confidence and authenticity. Check out her practical tips:

Squeaky Wheel Gets the Oil – you’ve got to show up and speak up to get what is rightfully yours. Don’t rely on your boss to be equitable when divvying up juicy new projects. Ask for new opportunities and manage up regularly so you boss (and his/her boss) knows what you are doing well.

Beer is For Bonding – often career opportunities come from conversations outside the office. No need to go all the way to the golf course, especially if you don’t play. Invite your colleagues out for a beer or libation of choice. Very few will turn down an offer for a Happy Hour and this could be a great place to network and negotiate new opportunities in your current role.

Avoid Being Easily Offended – according to Jane Fang, guys have their own Circle of Trust where they discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly. While you should always know your bottom line for tolerance and acceptance, and never condone sexual harassment, letting things roll may just get you into the inner sanctum where information is shared that will give you the inside scoop. Develop a thick skin and see what intelligence you can unearth that can position you for career success.

Don’t Get the Coffee or the Lunch – you never see the successful guys in the office picking up lunch or coffee for their boss so unless you are the assistant relegated to those tasks, don’t take on that role. Likewise don’t volunteer to take notes at a meeting. When was the last time you heard a male colleague volunteer to take the meeting minutes?

Don’t be The “Yes” Woman – you need not say yes all the time to establish your professional worth. No is actually a complete sentence so stand-up for the projects you really want and feel confident in turning others down. You must teach people how to treat you.

Get a Sponsor – this is a mentor who will promote you within your organization or beyond. You must earn the respect of a sponsor and prove your value. Once you cultivate these relationships, you will have advocates helping you move your career goals forward. Be generous and pay-it-forward to others as well.

With over a decade of career and professional development coaching experience, Caroline Dowd-Higgins has a desire to empower and energize people to achieve their personal goals.  Her training style is engaging, high energy, and positive with a focus on unlocking the self-advocate within each of us.  Read more from Caroline at

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