In the age of female empowerment and the “Me Too” movement, women still come across numerous unfortunate obstacles on their way to corporate success. All young and aspiring women have to work very hard to surpass the traditional stereotype of being a cute, immature, and trophy-like addition to a male-dominated business meeting.
As a female entrepreneur, you will collaborate with people who treat you respectfully as an equal, but there will be times when it will be done in a belittling, sexist manner.
Here are several tips that can help you build a respectful and serious image of a businesswoman in a male-dominated business.
Own your worth
Coming forward with confidence and owning your worth is the single, most important step you need to take. Confidence may not come naturally to everyone so you might have to put some serious work into it, but once you do it, your self-confidence will prove vital in gaining respect and credibility among your peers.
In addition, you need to stop apologizing for saying what you really mean or want. Don’t worry about offending someone or coming off as aggressive. Provided you’re not actually insulting someone, there’s no need to apologize for speaking your mind. Stop softening your messages, be direct and take yourself seriously if you want to be taken so by others.
Being professional means being accountable, so take full responsibility for both your achievements and mistakes. Blaming others for your failures is a sign of insecurity and immaturity, and a sure way to lose the respect of your peers. On the other hand, taking responsibility for your mistakes shows good teammate and leadership qualities, but you will also need to be prepared to listen to other people’s opinions and re-evaluate your options. However, don’t let yourself be easily influenced by criticism. Be confident in your ability to make the right decisions. Kill that stereotype that women are easily influenced and be confident in yourself!
An important part of your corporate image is controlling your mood and emotional state of being. Women are highly hormonal beings but your mood should not indicate what is happening inside you. Make a conscious effort to have a consistent mood pattern regardless of the time of the month.
Finally, resist spreading rumours. Women generally get a bad reputation for gossiping and exaggerating, but don’t fall into that stereotypical trap. Such behaviour is inappropriate and unprofessional, so once a rumour gets to you, let it die.
It’s absolutely unacceptable for your male co-workers and boss to objectify you, but if you wear low-cut, tight and revealing clothes to work, you won’t be helping the situation. An integral part of your professional image is the way you dress for work and it’s also the first thing both your peers and your clients notice about you when you meet and work together. Therefore, make an effort to look professional and choose your work wardrobe carefully. Wear garments such as shirts, blouses, women’s work jackets, pants and dresses. Opt for colours such as white, black, grey, navy and brown, and combine them tastefully.
Don’t let anybody talk over you
Becoming an expert in your field is certainly not easy. It takes time, effort, determination, perseverance and experience. It won’t come overnight. Work hard and invest in yourself, so when you find yourself in a conversation with a confident client, colleague or competitor, believe it is so because of your professionalism and expertise. However, bear in mind you can’t know it all, so be open to dialogue and innovations. What you should never allow is for others to talk over you, and explain to you what you already know well.
Know when to walk away
Finally, we all have a limit. For female entrepreneurs, believing in themselves is crucial. Historically, so many women have been trained to be obedient and submissive, but this pattern needs to be broken. Naturally, this doesn’t mean you should be rude, rather assume that you’re dealing with a reasonable person and an understanding will be within reach. From time to time, you will have to deal with people who are persistently difficult, uncouth, and patronising. These are the people you won’t need in your professional life, so know when to persist and when to walk away.
Nowadays, there are more female entrepreneurs than ever before, so it’s essential to remember these principles and each businesswoman needs to do her part in getting closer to gender parity. With determination and persistence, women in business can be taken seriously and should never settle for being part of the conversation – they should take control of it.