5 ways to thrive in a male-dominated workplace

While there are more awesome women taking on traditionally male industries than ever, there are still some places where you’ll be woefully outnumbered. But the fact that you’re lacking in a female support system at work doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.

Science, engineering and finance are just some of the areas where the gender ratio isn’t exactly skewed in your favour, and the gender pay gap is still a very real thing. But follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to a successful career in no time.

Here’s how to unleash your inner Peggy Olson and hold your own in a male-dominated workplace.

1. Take on an office leadership role

Whether it’s a titled role or a more informal designation, being the person who everyone looks to for help, advice or approval is a powerful thing. Doing anything from taking on an extra project to helping new hires settle in could make you an essential team member in your colleagues’ eyes. Take yourself seriously and everyone else will too.

2. Play to your strengths (even when they’re stereotypes)

Obviously you’ve got the hard skills and intelligence necessary for the job, but don’t shy away from using any supposedly “girly” qualities that set you apart from everyone else. Whether it’s listening, emotional aptitude, empathy, socialising or just being the mother hen – if you have these strengths, play to them. They’re good qualities to demonstrate as a rising future leader, and, especially in a workplace where those skills are in short supply, they’re also not a bad way to get noticed.

3. Find a mentor

If your company doesn’t already have a mentor programme, reach out to a woman in a senior role and learn from their experience. They’ll more than likely be excited to help younger female employees along in their career paths.

4. Go to happy hour

Don’t miss out on your chance to bounce ideas around outside of the office with the boys. One of the best ways to bond with your co-workers is a relaxing group activity like going to the pub, so treat them to a round of drinks and join in the conversation. It might be a bit awkward or intimidating at first, but is one of the easiest ways to integrate yourself into the group and make sure you’re up to speed with any business developments.

5. Be confident and stand up for yourself

If you have a good idea, share it. Take credit for your successes. If you disagree with someone, don’t be afraid to say so. If you believe you deserve to be paid more, negotiate for it. There’s no need to be arrogant or rude, but don’t be too self-deprecating either. As long as you believe in yourself and your abilities, your male colleagues will respect you. Just trust your gut – it’s gotten you this far already!

Now what?