Even in today’s society, the presence of gender roles pervades everyday life: including the workplace. Allyson Case, CEO of Integro Rehab LLC, tackles the issue of gender prejudices in the world of construction and what it means to be a woman in the workplace.
Allyson shares, “Over the years, one of the questions I am often asked is: ‘How do you handle being a woman in construction?!’ This question always makes me smile because I have never had to handle being a woman in construction. I’ve only had to handle being in construction. I handle my profession for what it is — my profession. I’ve never dwelled on the fact that I’m a woman doing the work. I think this approach is primarily what has taken me so far in male-dominated industries.”
Allyson offers seven tips from the trades that she has learned throughout developing the current approach she has for her profession:
• Take a Breath.
There are a variety of ways to counter pushback. If you want to be treated with respect, then be respectful and take a breath before responding. Letting your temper lead your response makes your colleagues uncomfortable because few people enjoy witnessing conflict. Letting your temper lead your response makes you look unprofessional. Your goal is to be recognized as professional. Don’t let your temper confuse your goals.
• Be Factual.
Not sure how to respond? Is a colleague or boss raising their voice or getting agitated? Are you getting nervous? Respond with facts. It’s difficult to argue with facts. Simply restate the sequential facts leading up to your discussion. I have found that this almost immediately brings tempers down and gets everyone back to talking. This tactic can also be used to buy you some time to compose your thoughts.
• Choose your Battles.
Do you want respect? Don’t fight with everyone. Seriously, not everyone needs to be put in their place. Let it go. You will be stigmatized. Pushing the envelope should be strategic and well-rehearsed before it ever happens in the workplace.
• Focus on Success.
Ladies, competition is everywhere. Don’t be jealous of each other. Don’t be jealous of the men either. Find out what is working for the successful people in your firm or industry and focus on cracking the code. Never, ever try to raise yourself up by stepping on someone else. It’s bad business. People need to be able to trust you in power. Don’t give them a reason to hold you back. At the end of the day, the facts should be that you’re awesome — nothing else.
• Be Passionate.
Don’t fake it. Enthusiasm is contagious. Don’t be the best woman in the room. Just be the best in the room.