Working Class: How To Excel In A Male-Dominated Industry As A Woman

Working Class is a series by CLEO where we ask experts and real women for job, career and salary tips. Have relevant advice to share? Contact us at cleo@sph.com.sg


The prospect of working in a male-dominated industry can be unnerving, what with the potential glass ceiling and discrimination just because you’re a woman. But don’t let the intimidation hinder you and you just may find yourself at the top of the game.  

Jane Ng, Head of Marketing at ESET, was working in the beauty industry prior to joining the cybersecurity solutions provider in 2012. While she found “stark differences” between a female-dominated industry and a male-dominated one, she rose through the ranks quickly and was promoted to her current role within three years.

Jane Ng.

“It was definitely a challenge for me to break gender stereotypes when I first made the switch. However, I invested time to learn about the evolving technologies and how they functioned to become proficient in my work,” she says. 

She adds that to succeed in an environment like that, a female professional should not only have resilience and effective communication skills, but also confidence. 

“Many women are afraid to speak up, share an idea or take a chance. But don’t shy away from decision-making—it’s fundamental to being a confident leader. Women must be empowered to take charge of improving situations on their own accord.” 

Want to thrive in a male-dominated industry? Here are some of her tips. 

1. Believe in your capabilities

“You were hired for the job, which means your boss sees your potential and capabilities. A confident attitude propels you forward and helps create high morale in your team. It also demonstrates your assertiveness, which will allow your views to be heard.” 

2. Own the work

“Take ownership of your contribution and be proactive by suggesting and executing ideas to address various organizational issues. This will not only build your team’s visibility, but also position you as a leader because you focus on how the organisation can evolve.” 

Also read: Working Class: Things To Do Before Leaving Your Well-Paying Job

3. Be a team player

“Offer support to team members—your willingness to take the time to help a colleague will speak volumes of your dedication to your role and your team’s success. Organisations always appreciate employees who are team players because the relationships they build motivate others to cooperate and work hard.”

4. Have clear goals

“If you know what you want to accomplish, you can identify the barriers to achieving those goals and monitor your progress all year round. Come up with three to five small but measurable goals and work on them—your initiative will demonstrate that you’re independent and self-motivated to reach new heights. Being goal-oriented also shows your commitment to growth and improvement.” 

Also read: Working Class: How To Run A Business Successfully With Your Sibling

5. Embrace life-long learning

“Invest your time and resources into improving your skills. Keep up-to-date with industry developments by attending industry seminars—this will not only allow you to become a master of your craft, but also boost your confidence and be ready for new opportunities in your industry.”

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