From Boxes to Bricks, How Women Can Break Into Male Dominated Careers
Recently, I had the good fortune of winning DHL’s Safe Driving Rodeo competition – a contest that assessed the driving performance of 640 of the company’s couriers from all across the country. Being part of this six-month long evaluation re-affirmed for me just how much I love my job – one that I have done for more than 25 years – but it also reminded me that I chose one of the male-dominated careers that tend to see many more men join than women.
That led me to ask myself some basic, but important, questions: how exactly can women break into new industries where they have traditionally been in the minority? How can they get excited about jobs that are often seen as men’s work? And, whether she wants to be a sports journalist, construction worker, logistics specialist, or a courier, how can we encourage a young woman today to try something different?
What Does Different Mean To You?
Of course, the answers won’t be the same for every kind of job. In my case, I love to drive; I like to accomplish something concrete every day; and I like to interact with customers. Being a courier made sense, and I had the confidence to try it, along with support from family and friends. I learned to make connections with my colleagues, to stand up for myself, and to let everyone understand why I love the logistics business.
So, while I have not worked outside the field of logistics in over 20 years, I can provide some suggestions for women thinking about a career in industries that are predominantly male like the STEM industries.
The following are four tips for moving into a career in a male-dominated field:
Build a Support Network:
When entering a new field, it is important to have the support of family and friends, and to get their encouragement. Also, remember that you are not alone. There are other women who have walked in your shoes before. Try to seek out a woman mentor at your company or within your industry to support and guide you.
Yes, it can be intimating entering a male-dominated industry, but if you appear confident, colleagues will likely have more respect for you right of the bat than if you seem timid and insecure. Your knowledge speaks for itself.
Motivation is key in every job, but when breaking into an underrepresented industry, it is especially important to stay inspired on rough days, which we all have. I find motivation in my customers, many of which have been on my route for decades and I have seen their children grow and go off to college.
Look for Companies that Prioritize Employees:
Find a company that provides you with the necessary tools and resources to succeed, and be available to answer any questions. Women and men should feel a sense of unity and feel valued within the company.
Most of us want to find the right job where we can feel good about what we do every day. Many positions once considered just for men can deliver that job satisfaction for women as well. For most of us, feeling accomplished means delivering results. The great thing about being a courier is that when you say you are delivering for your customers, you really are delivering (and picking up)!
This guest post was authored by Jana Heideman, DHL Express U.S. Courier