Advice on Working in a Male Dominated Field

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When I graduated from college, I chose to pursue a career in a predominantly male-dominated field: software. At my company, I am one of four female software developers working on a team of over thirty people, and three of the women have been hired within the past nine months. Throughout the past 15 months of working with mostly men, I have learned a few tips that are helping me succeed.

Not focusing on proving myself. At first I felt like, as a woman, I had to prove myself more than the men had to – I felt the need to work harder and take the grunt work. But I learned that I earned a place on this team and didn’t have to work extra-long hours to prove to people that I can do what men can do. It isn’t about that; it’s about being a contributing member of the team, no matter my gender. Once I stopped taking all the grunt work and established myself as a contributing member of the bigger projects, I felt more respected by my coworkers.

Grabbing a beer with the guys. My coworkers are big on happy hours, and they mainly choose to go to taprooms or breweries near the office. This isn’t an issue for me because I enjoy beer, but some of my female coworkers often refuse to join because they don’t like beer, and as a result they miss out on opportunities my bosses/managers bring up with us outside of the office.

Brushing it off. My coworkers will often make jokes and/or comments that are slightly off-color, like all boys do. I’m talking about the “that’s what she said” kind of jokes. They don’t mean any harm whatsoever with these so I just change the subject or move on. I’ve learned to not let it bother me.

Perhaps the most important thing I have learned in my time working with mostly men has been to not put other women down. I want to make sure the men I work with don’t think I’m the exception or that other women couldn’t handle this job. They need to realize that anyone can do this with the right education and hard work, regardless of gender.

 

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Thanks to Transitions contributor Nicole Dobias –
Originally from Indiana, Nicole attended DePauw where she was a member of the Gamma chapter of Alpha Phi. While tackling a Communications major and Computer Science minor, Nicole was also involved in WGRE, DePauw’s radio station. After graduating in 2014 she used her Computer Science experience right away and is currently working as a Software Engineer.