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Women in Male Dominated Fields: How to Remain Feminine and Still Succeed


Mar.24.2016

Women in Male Dominated Fields: Should You Become Men?

 

Every time I attend an empowerment event for women in male dominated fields, I hear statements such as "women should get better at this and that. Similar "solutions" about how to succeed in such industries:

 

Women in male dominated fields should become better negotiators.

You should avoid telling ice breaking jokes at meetings so you are taken seriously.

You should be aggressive, but not TOO aggressive; because then, you know, you're a bitch.

You shouldn't wear much make up or fashionable clothing.

You should man up.

God forbid if you ever cry at work.

 

What I hear is "women in male dominated fields should become more like men, in order to succeed."

 

Women in male dominated fields - Should you turn into a man Women in Male Dominated Fields - Should We Turn into Men?

 

But is that the way it should be? Why can't women remain women; the passionate, silly, funny, beautiful, loving, hard working creatures, and still succeed in such environments? If women become men to resolve the issue of diversity in male dominated industries, won't that defeat the purpose?

 

As the topic of women in male dominated fields such as fintech and engineering heats up, I believe this is an issue which needs to be addressed early on. Before we create a fintech culture that only accepts women who act like men. Because then what's the point of having women in that industry at all? What strength would that woman bring (provided all genders have equal amount of talent distribution among them) in order to stand out? Something that is not already delivered by male colleagues. Couldn't this be the reason why women across all industries are paid 20% less than their male counterparts on average?

 

Another issue which is discussed on the diversity topic is often brought up by HR managers. They are looking to hire women in male dominated fields, however they can't find female applicants.

 

Well guess what? In many cases when talented women read and hear that they need to act like men in order to succeed in these fields, they give the industry up all together. They step away from their talents and pursue a career that enables them to remain and act like women.

 

Women in Male Dominated Fields: Maintain Harmony

I believe in balance and harmony between men and women. I have seen portfolios perform better when a man has teamed up with a woman. This includes my husband and I.

 

For example, the alpha male's risk appetite often times balances the woman's risk averse mentality. Together, they maintain and grow a well managed fund. That is why I believe male dominated industries across the board will benefit from hiring talented, yet feminine women.

 

So how do we encourage this mentality in the work place?

 

There is a lot of culture behind the way women are perceived at work. We hear stories time and time again that a female engineer is constantly monitored when coding, while other male colleagues aren't. It is the combination of the man's over-confidence and the woman's self-doubt.

 

Women in Male dominated Fields - Harmony and balance Women in Male dominated Fields - Harmony and balance

 

We are all guilty of this. I am by all means not bashing men. I am observing the culture that has surrounded all of us since childhood.

 

I know for a fact that most modern men support diversity. But when it comes to it, they have different expectations which contradicts the natural femininity of woman. So do women. They have different expectations from themselves than what they are supposed to cherish.

 

The solution? Just like anything else: education.

 

Not only for women, but also for men.

 

Next time you throw a "women in tech" event, invite more men. Or call it something that attracts both genders. And then have an open discussions about our differences.

 

Men are from Mars, and women are from Venus, remember? No heterosexual marriage ever works if the woman turns into a man, and vice versa. Neither would a healthy work environment.

 

This is why at Invest Diva's education courses and in my book, I have made sure every concept on investing and finance is as feminine as possible. Women can remain women and invest like a Diva. In my four years running Invest Diva I have seen these women grow their wealth just like our male students. Neither party had to give up their identity to succeed.

 

Kiana Danial, CEO at Invest Diva

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