As a woman who works in the technology industry, you can imagine that I've found myself outnumbered in my fair share of board rooms. Often I've received questions of how I've responded to the lack of respect that comes with being the only female in the room. However, I've simply never thought anything of the difference in gender. For me, everything is based on performance.
From the start of my career I rooted myself in confidence that transcended my outward differences that were obvious amongst those of us in the boardroom. Don't get me wrong, nothing was handed to me at any point in my career. It was simply instilled in me to work relentlessly for whatever I wanted.
In most industries women are severely outnumbered, but that doesn't mean we bow out of the competition. Rather, we take charge of the conversation and spur impactful necessary dialogues without fear. As a woman who finds herself outnumbered in the leadership levels of business, I have to take charge and lead with bold honest confidence. This requires having respectful conversations within the workplace.
Taking part in issues that are pivotal and essential for women today is our responsibility as leaders in the workplace. As women, we need not be afraid of backlash that could come as a result of differences of opinion. The key, in fact, is to not be afraid. If what you're discussing and fighting for as a woman for women is something you believe to be right, fight for it.
Taking part in issues that are pivotal and essential for women today is our responsibility as leaders in the workplace.
It's even more essential now than ever to take part in conversations within our world. Whether those conversations are rooted within the boardroom or transcend themselves to the media, we are essential players in the success and history of our communities. If you happen to be the only woman in a male dominated workplace, you've accomplished a significant achievement. You now have a responsibility to lead by example. Your leadership should be a reflection of the issues you hold dear, thus your narrative needs to be heard.
In an era that continues to evolve, being honest and bold in the face of such change is essential. Simply because the media shows a male driven narrative, doesn't mean that as women we have anything less to offer. Owning the conversation is imperative, don't sell yourself short on the basis of something as basic as your gender. I feel that I've thrived in the workplace because I've always been authentic and unafraid of any hard work. Hard work is where the fun is, after all. Most importantly, owning our own voices is our responsibility.
When taking part in conversations in the boardroom or in the media, learn to disagree with tact. To receive respect comes by first giving respect. The best leaders and employees alike are those that can be nice to people, regardless of differences. This does not mean that you have to be friends with everyone, but you should start from a platform of respect. Along with such is the importance to encourage others in the workplace to express their opinions. Again, as a woman in a leadership role you're a direct example for men and women in your business. Encouraging other women through your actions is another form of expression.
Courtesy Of Rhonda Vetere, photographed by Studio 5600
The big takeaway is that regardless of what field of work you're thriving in, or what worldly situation you're amongst, you have not only the right but the distinct responsibility to take part in discussions that affect you as a person. Separate the gender stereotypes from your identity, and act simply as a human that has a desire to be involved in the decisions that directly impact you. Women need to be bold and let me reiterate, unafraid as they conduct themselves in the world. Live your life with bone deep confidence that radiates outwards. Your eagerness to join discussions in and out of the workplace only further demonstrate your unapologetic authentic self.
To be a successful woman in any avenue dominated by men, you have to carry an attitude lacking fear and soaked in confidence. Being prepared for anything eliminates the need for fear. Try your hardest to place as little emphasis as possible on the difference in gender between you and your co-workers. You're all professionals trying your hardest to perform your best daily. Your gender doesn't affect your ability to think, create, or excel in any way at all. If anything, you're better for the tenacity that we as women have built within us. Remember, keep the fire in your belly and keep your focus on results not gender.
Katie has overcome physical and mental hurdles, including being born without an ear, dealing with over eight reconstructive surgeries, and being paralyzed at age 17. These, amongst others, have become the key catalysts of her professional career. In an interview with SWAAY, Sandler shared some of her tips for fostering a positive mindset that are not only simple, but effective.