THE BLOG

The Growth of Women in Male-Dominated Industries

24/02/2016 12:20 GMT | Updated 19/02/2017 10:12 GMT

As a young woman, and a young professional - I never really felt like my gender came into the equation. Maybe it's because I grew up around strong women and incredible examples - maybe it's because I've never let my gender define what I could or couldn't do.

But as I'm growing older (I mean, I'm still young at 26, but I feel a million miles away from the graduate I was at 21) I do notice every now and again how gender affects people, and how it can change the potential for a person for those unwilling to look beyond it.

Maybe it's something you witness more the further up the career ladder you climb. Maybe it's something you notice the older you get. As men are perceived stronger and wiser with age, women are portrayed as a burden.

"You're 26? You'll be having kids soon right? That's a lot of time off"

I've been climbing, and I'm actually happy with my life as a freelancer, for many reasons. One of which being, I can pick and choose who I work with - and make sure they're a supportive, modern-thinking brand.

But, saying all this, I know if I were to re-enter the world of corporate roles, suits and office jobs - the hiring manager for someone at my senior level would probably be a man in his 50s or 60s, who has never honestly viewed a woman as his equal and probably never will. It's not his fault - everything is a matter of circumstance and thinking what we're taught to think, but it's certainly not a circumstance I'm happy with accepting.

That's not to say all men don't accept women as equals. I know, in my life, that all the men I choose to have in it, definitely do. The men I am friends with (and the man I'll soon be married to) celebrate women, their talent, their skills and their endless potential and awesomeness. I know though, that this isn't always the case. And actually, it's probably the exception to the rule.

Obviously, I don't like this. But who would?

As gender equality and working rights become more prevalent in the mainstream media (Emma Watson, famously making a powerful speech last year at the UN), unfortunately, it seems many young women still shy away from 'male-dominated industry' roles because of the stereotypes that proceed them; a recent survey has shown that nearly 40% of women who have engineering degrees either leave the profession early or never even join it.

Why?

Is it because they think they're un-welcome, or because they actually are unwelcome? Because if either are true, both need rectifying.

I didn't want this article to be a rant though (which I fear it turning into) what I wanted it to be - was an inspiring look at some of the incredible women around us, taking on those male-dominated industries and leading the way, not just for women, but for men as well.

Women In IT and Online Marketing

This one is close to my heart, as it's an industry I've worked in, and it's an industry my partner works in too. As a woman in online marketing, it's fantastic to see the amount of women working in all kinds of roles, compared to 5 years ago, for example.

Moz (one of the main publishers and software companies in the industry) carry out a survey every year to track this growth, and every year since 2012 the number of women working in the industry has been rising. In 2012; 22.7% of the online workforce were women, but that number has increased to 30.1% in 2015. Another thing Moz are great for is showcasing women speakers and women writers - exactly what women need to see happening.

The company even has a female CEO, an incredibly talented woman called Sarah Bird. Sarah was appointed CEO after company owner and founder, Rand Fiskin decided she was far better equipped for the job - again, an important move for gender equality that would've been inspiring and encouraging for all women trying to get to the top in SEO, IT or Online Marketing. Both Rand and Sarah are people I hugely admire, and there's a really great blog post about the transition here, that Rand wrote himself.

Women In The Fleet Industry 

I wanted to take a much more extreme example for my next point, and I think the fleet industry is one that still sees a huge gap in terms of gender employment. There are over 16 million HGV and fleet drivers in the UK alone and it is important to point out that only 1% of those drivers are female. However, whilst those numbers may be small, the number of women working within the management sector of these companies has risen greatly (software and management companies such as WEX Europe Services for example) who are seeing a rise in female hires, especially in the management and software side of the business. In fact, many large companies like this are reporting up to 30% of the Senior Fleet Management are women. It is definitely a figure that is moving in the right direction.

Two women I hugely admire, in this industry are Dr Lisa Dorn (founder of Driver Metrics) and Andra Rush (founder of Rush Trucking Corporation). Both of these women set up two hugely successful and influential businesses, and continue to achieve amazing things. Dr Lisa Dorn for example is President of the International Association of Applied Psychology - Traffic and Transport Psychology Division, Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a member of the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors. I think that's what you call, kicking ass in your field.

Women in Highly Visible Senior Roles

What inspires me, is seeing women in highly visible senior roles. Like all the women mentioned above. Indra Nooyi may not be a name that you recognise, but she is the powerful mastermind behind PepsiCo; she joined the company in 1994 and has risen to the top of the company. During her supreme reign she has helped the company's revenue increase by 72% alongside acquiring Tropicana, Gatorade and Quaker Oats to name but a few. 

I love seeing women doing incredible, and not being shy about it.

"Yes, I'm fucking awesome. Watch me do a fucking great job" - is the attitude I want all women to have, whether they're in a male dominated industry or not.

I want to see more lists like this, and this.

And I don't want women to be shy about sharing them.