Women Rising in the Ranks of Male-Dominated Industries
By Liz Gold
In the United States, only 6.5% of women worked full-time in male-dominated occupations in 2020.
These three women are among that group. They discuss rising in rank in beer, cars, and Wall Street.
With a background in engineering and manufacturing—which are two of the top male-dominated industries in the U.S.–Megan Greenwood wasn’t intimidated by the idea of opening her own brewery.
She started small, brewing beers in her garage. Then, she started attending industry meetings and introducing herself to other brewers. She did all the physical work to get her name out: brewing, selling, and delivering the beer. She later opened a storefront location in Phoenix, Arizona.
“Put your name on a nametag and go to that industry meeting. Introduce yourself as you’re going to build the next big thing,” Greenwood said.
Greenwood says encouragement from others and a team of both men and women helped her along the way. Now, she is part of only about 3% of breweries owned exclusively by a woman.
Whitney Yates Woods, a dealer principal at Yakes Buick GMC in Phoenix, Arizona, also rose up in a male-dominated industry by taking advantage of GM’s Women’s Retail Network. It’s a group that connects women employees to help support and grow their careers.
“There were a lot of women car dealers who helped me greatly get to the position I’m in right now,” Yates Woods said.
She also sought out education and courses to help her grow in leadership.
Megan Tobais Neely studies workplace equality and wrote a book about the lack of women in executive roles on Wall Street.
“They tend to frame their paths to success as being all about hard work and didn’t get distracted by everything else going on,” Tobais Neely said.
Tobais Neely says assumptions about women within male-dominated industries often hold women back. Assumptions like women aren’t as committed or that women lack confidence or that there aren’t enough qualified women. She encourages women to build mentorship networks with multiple people that can help them with various challenges.
“Advice on the next move, advice on personal matters, maybe someone just to help you laugh and enjoy downtime,” she said.
She says education and specialized training can also boost a woman’s credibility and confidence.