How to Survive Being One of the Only Females at Work

My first job out of college was a paid internship at a sports media site, one I worked really hard to get. I knew I was headed into a male-dominated field (obviously), but the challenges didn’t fully sink in until I started the role.

Even as a self-proclaimed “guy’s girl,” walking into an office full of dudes made me nervous—and almost unsure about my place in the sports world entirely. When you’re singled-out naturally, it’s hard not to feel like you have to work harder than everyone else in the company.

If your passion involves a career where you’re one of the only females, here are 6 ways to survive. P.S. You’ve got this!

Speak up

Sitting at a table with strictly men can get awkward—especially when you’re new or it’s your first professional job. Instead of being a fly on a wall and likely making them feel uncomfortable with you around, force yourself to join in the conversation. Show your personality! Even something as small as a genuine “hello/goodbye” is a nice start.

Don’t take things personally

The greatest lesson I learned from working with males was not to take things too personally. Guys simply think, and talk, differently. Most male colleagues won’t respond to an email with emojis or fluffy text—like females tend to do when communicating—and that’s OK. It has nothing to do with their thoughts towards you. If anything, you’ll learn how to effectively communicate and get to the point—something that comes in handy with any sort of career.

Be yourself

It can seem necessary to over-prove your knowledge when you’re a minority in the industry, but try your best to stay honest. Sports wise, I knew a lot “for a girl,” but I’ve never had interest in baseball stats, so I didn’t pretend to. Same goes for any job; be true to your strong suits and don’t worry about being knowledgeable with every single topic. You’ll earn a lot more respect by being humble!

Try not to date—too much

Working with single people your age can be…tempting. We all know it’s easy to meet love interests at work because you spend most of your time there, but when you’re one of the only chicks, don’t play the field too much—at least at work. The double standard might not be fair, but sticking to this rule will make your life much easier.

If you’re truly clicking with someone, take it slow and keep things between you two until you’re confident it’s worth sharing. You want your reputation to be about your kickass work ethic, so save the random make outs for outside the office.

Give everyone a shot

I’ll admit it, when I walked into my first day of work, I took one look around and did a major eye-roll. An office full of frat bros wearing jerseys, burping, and drinking beer by 3 p.m. (how original, sports fans!).

But instead of assuming that people you work with are a certain way, give everyone a fair shot, just as they are hopefully doing for you! I met some of the brightest guys I know while working in sports—and sipping beers alongside them.

Find a female mentor

There’s nothing more valuable than finding someone in the industry who has helped pave the way for women. If you’re in sports, send a tweet or email to a female broadcaster. In accounting? Attend conferences and see if you click with any ladies there. Not only will this serve as guidance for working with guys, but venting sessions will be welcomed.

Are you currently working with all men? What are your survival tips?

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  1. I’ve worked in the sports industry – professional sports teams, media, venues – for over 25 years and I think you really nailed it – great advice. And definitely reach out to other women – there’s a strong circle there that can be very supportive and helpful.

  2. I’m a computer science engineer and there’s not a lot of female ones around here. And it’s definitely true, you do have to work harder than everybody else just because they will initially assume you’re not as good. But it’s worth it because once you do prove yourself they will also respect you that much more. and definitely do not get involved with anybody that works close to you. You will be everybody’s friend and darling specially if you’re the only woman in the group but once you tie yourself to one person you won’t have the same relationship with the rest.

  3. I have been werking in several male dominated places since i graduated (in a a female dominated workfield HR by the way) and I just love it. I like to no BS attitude and straight forwardness guys have, makes everything easier.
    However, my tips are that you can use your female strength to get things done, do not forget that you are a girl which can make a great contribution to a male team. It has been shown that divers teams get better results. And don’t be afraid to say what you think: trust me, they do want your input!

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