The value of bringing women into male-dominated industries
Women remain under-represented across the board in the world of work, but there are still some industries that are particularly hard for women to break into. There are many reasons for this, from biases in the hiring process and active discrimination to sexist work culture.
Whatever the reason, one thing is certain: women bring numerous benefits to a business, from loyalty and better representation to a fresh perspective. What can companies gain from diversifying their recruitment and encouraging more women to apply for positions in male-dominated sectors?
The challenges of working in a male-dominated field
There are numerous challenges women need to overcome in a male-dominated environment, from misogynistic comments and outdated attitudes to a lack of respect from male colleagues and an imbalance in pay. The communication differences between men and women can sometimes make it hard for women to be heard which means staff need to adapt to get their opinions across or to feel like their opinions have the same impact as those of a male staff member.
For women, one of the major challenges of working in a male-dominated career is that there may be a limit on the number of opportunities for promotion in a business and that women may not feel like they’re being included in company-wide discussions which will have an impact on them as well as men. For every 100 men promoted from an entry-level role to a managerial position, just 87 women are promoted and 82 are women of color, meaning women never catch up to the rate of male promotions.
A male-dominated industry can also appear to be less innovative and reluctant to adapt, which can impact its ability to attract a wider pool of workers. When women are excluded from industries, it has a knock-on effect on customers, clients and stakeholders, as well as investors, suppliers and vendors.
In instances where women work in a male-centric environment, they often feel empowered and fly the flag for that particular underrepresented sector like logistics, construction and tech. Pioneering women raise the profile of their job and see themselves as role models for other women and young girls, as well as increasing the familiarity people feel when seeing women in traditionally male roles.
Examples of male-dominated industries
There are several industries where men still prioritize roles, and where there remains a significant imbalance between male and female employees. For example, transport and logistics is still a predominantly male sector, but professional HGV driving is becoming more accessible to female drivers and offers an interesting career for women with great pay and the opportunity to travel to different areas of the U.S., or even work in other countries.
Likewise, the tech sector has largely been male-oriented in previous years but now more businesses are making a concerted effort to encourage female applicants to different roles, though there is much to be done to level the playing field. Other industries which still carry a male stereotype are agriculture, manufacturing, energy and water supply, and construction. If an industry has more than 55% domination from a single gender, it’s considered to have a lack of gender diversity and this is an issue for so many industries today.
Qualities women bring to stereotypically male jobs
Men and women often have a different way of looking at a project or a challenge, but if you predominantly have a male workforce, you’re likely to get similar ideas and approaches to work. It can be beneficial to have a balance of people because that provides you with a team with different backgrounds and experiences that can influence innovation and make your business more efficient and productive. Listening to different perspectives can move your business forward and help you take the lead in your industry.
It may seem obvious, but sometimes, leaders need to remember that in appealing to women as well as men when hiring employees, they instantly widen their talent pool. Job seekers aren’t just looking for a job that pays the bills these days. They want to work for businesses that are accommodating and cultivate a positive work culture, and making sure your team is diverse and appealing to everyone, not just men, can help you attract top talent in the face of global talent shortages across numerous industries.
High competency levels
There can often be a direct correlation between women in leadership and higher profitability for businesses, meaning that prioritizing gender inclusion can actually benefit your company’s bottom line. The fact that there are less women in leadership positions isn’t because they don’t have the skills for those roles, as the increased profitability shows. Women tend to under-value their qualifications and experience, ignoring job applications if they don’t meet 100% of the criteria, while men will still apply if they feel only 60% qualified, yet women are just as competent as men when it comes to these job roles.
Women are statistically more loyal when it comes to employment than men, meaning they’ll commit themselves more to a role and stay with the same company for longer which reduces recruitment costs for businesses and enhances company reputation. Hiring more women in your workplace doesn’t just boost productivity but it also reduces the cost and stress of replacing staff members when they choose to move on.
When your business is staffed entirely by men, it gives the impression that you don’t care about equality or inclusion, which can damage your business’ reputation. Customers today are more discerning and they want to support businesses which share their values, so showing a united front when it comes to inclusion and diversity can really enhance your brand and image. It sends a positive message about who your company is and what you want it to be moving forward.
Hiring women is a positive action for individuals, businesses and entire industries. Women can bring a lot to a team, and in industries that have typically excluded women, whether intentionally or not, businesses can see a real benefit to hiring more female employees and diversifying teams.