By Joan Runnheim Olson
Only 12 percent of the professionals in engineering are women. In other male-dominated fields, such as science and information technology, women comprise less than 25 percent of the workforce in those fields. When women are the minority in a field, what steps can they take to succeed?
In an article published in the Huffington Post, "Women in Technology: Let's Close the Gap," author Peggy Johnson shares lessons she has learned which may be helpful to young women in a technical career: Get out of your comfort zone. Be willing to try new things and don't turn down an opportunity to take on more. Be yourself and trust in your strengths. Don't try to be something you are not. Leverage your strengths which for women often include collaboration, teamwork, and relationship building. Keep your priorities balanced. While it's easy to try and be superwoman, it's important to consider all aspects of your life, e.g., family, friends, work, health, etc. Some days you may need to work 12 hours, and other times you may need to leave work early to watch your child play sports.
I would also add the following tips to help women succeed: Join a professional industry-related association. Consider volunteering to serve in a leadership capacity to increase your visibility, learn new skills, and become more marketable. Seek out a mentor or sponsor. Learn from someone who has blazed the trail before you. Participate in company events, such as golf outings and company-sponsored volunteer opportunities. This will help increase your visibility within the company and demonstrate you are a team player.
While working in a male-dominated career can be challenging, it can also be very rewarding. Try the above strategies to set yourself up for success.