Times are definitely changing—for the better—for women. We can now aspire to be anything and everything we want to be, especially in the professional and business world, and we’re more likely to succeed too. Women have been elected president of a country, been named CEO of a conglomerate, become a much sought after motivational speaker or financial guru.

But, admittedly, it is still not easy for any woman who attempts to break the glass ceiling. The higher up the corporate or business ladder women go, the harder we’ll need to compete and prove ourselves in a still largely male-dominated world.

So how do you make it in a room filled with men? Here is a seven-point action plan you can adopt in your fight for recognition, promotion, or excellence in your chosen profession or industry.

Create a strategic plan. Don’t just passively wait to be noticed. Instead, map out a platform for success and then follow through with your plans. To find motivation, you can study the profiles and career trajectories of women achievers. For example, you can do research on Jessica Cox, a motivational speaker and pilot who was born without arms and who steers airplanes with her legs. Or look up the accomplishments of award-winning Dr. Josette Biyo, the executive director of the Philippine Science High School who has a planet named after her in recognition of her excellent body of work. In your own company, don’t hesitate to ask a close superior or director, both men and women, about their strategy as they moved up the corporate ladder.

Promote yourself. Think of yourself as a marketing expert who needs to introduce herself to a whole lot of people and who has to build relationships. Take on difficult challenges and risks to stand out and eventually get promoted. Consider also serving on board meetings to raise your visibility, and stay active in professional associations and search for leadership roles and responsibilities.

Be proactive. Don’t hinder your own growth by becoming complacent or content. Actively seek training, seminars, and workshops to keep learning professionally and improve your work or entrepreneurial skills.

Find work you enjoy. It may be a cliché, but doing work that truly gives you joy is half the battle. Look for a work culture that complements your strengths, limits your weaknesses, and is easier to endure in times of isolation. You are more likely to stay motivated in the face of gender-related hindrances when you are passionate about what you do.

Develop a plan to counter discrimination. Yes, intolerance still exists today, even in the workplace. Develop a plan to combat discrimination, but remember that not everything that may go against you is an attack on you, so choose your battles carefully. If you have trouble coping, it may be good to seek professional help or advice.

Have realistic expectations. Many women enter the workplace thinking that breaking new ground would be a breeze. When their expectations are not met, they give up or decide to settle for less. Learn to accept that not everything will go as planned, and prepare for setbacks by studying how you can stay strong as you strive to overcome opposition or failure.

Seek mentors. They need not only be your bosses or professional allies, mentors can also be friends and relatives of both sexes who have chalked up outstanding achievements. Look to them not only as individuals who can share their professional skills with you, but who can also introduce you to other people who can help you move ahead. – ED

Photo: UN Women

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