5.5 top tips for women and OMGs working in a male-dominated industry

It’s tough working in a male-dominated industry as a woman or other marginalized gender (OMG). Thankfully this week I have a special guest post from Amelia from the awesome HI Jewellery talking about her experiences and top tips for dealing with it.

Take it away Amelia.

“She likes being on her knees” said one male colleague to me when I was kneeling down to discuss a project plan with a colleague at their desk. 

“He’s had more workshop experience than you” said a potential employer to me after university as to why they chose a male classmate of mine for a grad role over me.

Even though we’d just completed the same degree, with the same projects and the same amount of workshop time. Yes I can weld. Yes I can 3D model. I did the same damn degree. 

“We just need a male in the team – they’ll get on easier with the rest of the group”…

This. Has. To. Stop. 
These are all small little comments, which are mostly brushed off at the time – but they all add up to show the cracks in the culture of a male dominated industry. 

Here’s my top tips from 10 years from working in a male-dominated industry

1 – Find allies

This. is. the. best. advice. ever. 
You don’t have to do it alone. Find a mentor, an online community, a few peers in other departments. Repeating for impact – you, yes you, you don’t have to do it alone. 

1.1 – find a plus, minus and equal

A plus, someone who can help you look forward, make plans, mentor, coach what ever you want to call it. This is actually advice from a fighter!  

Find a minus – someone you can help, support and share from your experiences. Teaching is always a great way to really test your knowledge. I always learn something from the people I’m teaching. 

And equals – these are your allies. The people who are right in the thick of it at the same time as you. The people you go for wine/beer/kombutcha with for a vent and often a little bit of healthily competition. Equals are my fave. I love my equals. We really encourage each other in our projects, new challenges and celebrate achievements together.

2 – Support fellow women

Join (or create!) a community and encourage each other. Share information and tips and create a safe space to discuss issues and ideas! Join a women in tech group. Even if you don’t contribute – you can know you have a community there if you need it. The NZ women in tech group has a slack community (it’s over 600 now!!) and we have channels for #arg venting and #ftw (for the win) celebrating through to sharing #jobs and #reads. It’s often a highlight of my week – seeing and discussing with other Women in Tech, and feeling validated and supported. 

3 – Be Aware

For quite some time I didn’t even notice the inappropriate comments, looks, and interactions, but the minute someone said “that’s not right” it was like (as the saying goes) the wool had been lifted from my eyes. I couldn’t stop noticing.

Recently at a Women in Tech meet up in Auckland a fellow WIT said “but women are emotional, we aren’t the best at some of these things..” So it was my turn to say “that’s not right”. It was my turn to pay-it-forward! I hope we can all help each other work on awareness. 

4 – Allow yourself to feel how ever you need to feel

But don’t dwell on anything for too long. If it doesn’t feel right – it probably isn’t. Feel it, and acknowledge it. But then move on. I’ve encountered this advice from mentors, kinesiologists, business books and religion. It’s a great piece of advice and it can set you free at times.

There’s always going to be tough feedback, shitty situations, crap projects, redundancies, re-structures, arguments, crazy amounts of change… But its how we cope with these that help us grow.

5 – Pick your next challenge (not job)

I found this exercise (in The decision book) that encouraged you to look back at your past life phases (kind of like a customer experience journey map!) after looking at the things I’d achieved, learnt and struggled with it became clear that the struggles and learnings directly impacted the achievements of the next life phase.

So now I ask, ‘what do I need to learn/be challenged by to get where I want to go?’. Hence starting HI Jewellery ;o) 


*Note: none of these tips are solely my ideas – they are a collection from my travels through a decade of working in a male dominated industry. Do you have any top tips? Or stories you think women in tech should hear – please get in touch! 

Or do you have an idea for HI Jewellery? I LOVE to hear ideas – it’s all about creating designs that say “women belong in IT” using the latest tech – 3D printing – Jewellery for tech-loving individuals

Working in a male-dominated industry – Kim’s thoughts

This was an interesting read for me as someone who has experience as a woman of working in a male-dominated industry.

The one that most stood out to me was number 3. For a long time I didn’t notice the comments.

It was only when I started taking an interest in women’s rights that I noticed it.

Being painted as an ‘angry woman’ when actually I was being assertive and showing that I actually cared about what I did and the quality of not only my own work, but that of my colleagues too.

Amelia Diggle is the designer and founder of HI Jewellery and lives in New Zealand.

Her passions are user interface and jewellery design, adventure and 3D cad design.

You can find her on Facebook, Instagram and at Human Interface Jewellery.

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