International Women’s Day: Female Success in a Male-Dominated Industry
As I signed the offer letter to my recruitment firm, the first of what would become some all-too-familiar words rang in my ear; “Such a cut-throat and brutal industry, are you sure it’s for you?”, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure at all. What I did know though, was that if I was male, fewer people would be questioning my decision. I began to wonder why…
Recruitment as an industry has seen a dramatic shift in mindset recently; we can see it moving away from the ‘boys’ club’ mentality that stemmed from the ’80s. However, there is still a lot that needs to be done to ensure that equal opportunity is presented to all. Firms such as Oxford Knight are continually pushing for equality, and the opportunities to grow are never-ending.
However, what is it actually like to be female in a male-dominated industry? How do you really come to succeed?
Recruitment is synonymous with long hours, high stress and repeated knockbacks. Surely women can’t thrive in this environment, can they?! WRONG!
To celebrate International Women’s Day, find my top 5 tips below.
- Own Your Strengths
Females bring their own unique set of skills and attributes to the table, and in my opinion, this makes for some rocket recruiters. Time management, multi-tasking, sensitivity, ambition and brains are just to name a few. None of the below are exclusive to women (I know many others who are also empathetic, caring etc..). Still, these feminine focused traits are a good place to start.
We are often empathetic and lead decisions from the heart, as well as the head. These traits can polarise many external opinions of the ‘typical recruiter’ but, in my opinion, lead to great candidate relationships and ethical decision making. In turn, longstanding connections are kept, and trust is built – a crucial part of recruitment.
Females are personable and good listeners. As Bernard Baruch once said, “The most successful people I have known are the ones who do more listening than talking”. This is something I feel most females have down to the tee.
I don’t know about you, but I am a master of multi-tasking. I work a full-time job, train as a high-level sprinter, maintain a social life and still have all the time in the world for my family… I’m not saying this is exclusively feminine, but I don’t think you can argue with the multi-tasking talent. This is definitely carried through to my recruitment job.
In an industry associated with masculinity and male traits, it can be challenging to let femininity shine through. It’s time to start owning your personal qualities, ladies!
- Know Your Worth
Some people refer to needing a ‘thick skin’ in recruitment, and trust me, sometimes it really feels that way. However, I think a better way of putting it is to know your worth. Sometimes it can seem daunting to voice your opinion and make yourself heard in a male-dominated environment, especially in recruitment where the banter is rife. When you know your worth, you trust yourself and the decisions you make. You can stop taking things personally and seize opportunities when they arise. Be confident in your abilities, strength, and celebrate your successes – no matter how big or small these may be. Knowing your worth allows you to bounce back.
- Grasp All Opportunities
In July 2020, women held just 6% of CEO positions in Fortune 500 Companies (CNBC). According to science, men typically display a self-enhancing bias, whereas women are more likely to be self-effacing. This means that females are less likely to put themselves up for a promotion, leading to stagnation. If you play to your strengths, know your worth and grasp all opportunities, you can be a female success in a male-heavy industry.
Being part of a recruitment firm gives you so much exposure. It’s probably one of the only jobs where you don’t just learn your own job but also hundreds of others (in a high-level sense, of course). This exposure brings so much opportunity to learn, and the chance to continually acquire knowledge never grows old. You also get to speak to a huge range of people, which is both exciting and eye-opening – nurturing a long-term relationship is sure to open doors in the future. As you progress in your company, the chance to mentor, interview, lead and put forward your ideas will increase – accept all opportunities readily.
- Set Yourself Goals
As an athlete, I’m no stranger to striving to reach new targets. I take this through to my recruitment career. Both short-term and long-term goals allow you to stay focused, giving you vision and motivation. Setting goals allows me to focus my time, prioritise what needs to be done and channel my energy into my day-to-day work. These goals also provide a measure of success and progress, which in turn increases confidence. Share your goals with Leads, Mentors and Peers; they’re sure to be supportive – Oxford Knight certainly is!
- Lead From The Front and Encourage One Another
My final point is arguably the most important. In order to promote success and encourage females in male-dominated industries, women from within must speak out and celebrate female peers!
My time at Oxford Knight so far would not have been the same without my female colleagues, their unwavering support. We need to reverse the stereotype that women don’t support one another, especially as research shows that females benefit from collaboration as well as competition (Forbes). Ann Friedman’s Shine Theory is one that I think all women should follow. It allows us to amplify our peers and is the idea that when you help another woman rise, we all shine. It’s time females built each other up, gave each other credit and shouted successes from the rooftops!
There isn’t one answer to how a female can succeed in a male-dominated industry, but hopefully, the tips above provide some insight into my personal success. As long as we continue to build one another up, promote equality and keep providing opportunities for all, successes will continue to follow.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Oxford Knight is a technical recruitment agency. None of our consultants have written a line of code... yet. We apologise if this article doesn’t keep some purist happy, but we’re trying to build a new generation of technical recruitment agencies…. We listen, participate, and deliver.