This week’s blog comes from one of The Source’s interns, Raisa Begum. Raisa is a STEM undergraduate and having started with us by reading a tonne of content, including INSecurity, I wanted her to dig a little deeper on the struggle for women in male dominated industries, like cyber, get her voice out there, and pull some things together for you. Here’s what she’s found.
The struggle is real for women in cyber
Women usually accept jobs, then later find out that there is a lack of resources available to them. They may come across guidelines that either do not care for women in the workplace or openly dismiss them. Many still report discriminatory policies regarding maternity leave/pregnancy.
Working in non-traditional roles for women is still considered unusual. As a result, many women feel they have little emotional and social, or professional support. Expectations of gender roles have a negative impact on the workplace, placing women at a disadvantage.
Numerous women describe encounters with spiteful or discouraging male coworkers. This affects their capability to perform their duties while remaining at ease in the workplace.
Overcoming and coping with these challenges
From “bro-culture” to gender-based assumptions that you don’t know how to do your job, women in these fields go to work every day already burdened with the task of proving their worth and abilities—a burden that their male colleagues do not need to bear. So, what are women’s options in these conditions? Should they ‘man up’ and become “one of the boys”? Do they use their ‘feminine’ qualities, such as empathy and nurturing, to differentiate themselves from the men and bring new viewpoints to the company?
So what can we do?
- Switch between ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ attributes.
- Take a stand against discriminatory hiring or promotion practices.
- Collaborate with an industry mentor.
- Demand that recruiting places encourage women to apply.
- Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of the job, concentrate on the positive aspects.
- In the workplace, show your support for your female coworkers.
A long term change…
None of the listed approaches address changing workplace culture in a way that leads to long-term change. You may be able to impact hiring procedures depending on your exact role and authority. Hiring is frequently influenced by stages of unconscious bias, which has been demonstrated to be a problem for hiring managers of both genders. Therefore, by discarding names and employing numbered processes, job candidates can benefit from a more equitable selection process. Additionally, you may be able to incorporate female-targeted recruitment campaigns, and by simply expressing that it is not impossible to succeed in fields not traditionally connected to women, like cybersecurity, could suffice.
Possibly the most underappreciated way for women to change workplace culture in male-dominated industries is to support other women in the industry. Whether it’s refusing to participate in sexist jokes about a female coworker or openly praising her accomplishments, taking a stand for other female colleagues sets the tone for the organisation, whilst also making coworkers feel supported and respected. Bringing about a difference in workplaces that depend on gender roles and identities can be difficult, and women should not have to face it alone.
The motivational aspects!
Regardless of the difficulties faced by women in these environments, they frequently grow a thick skin and stay patient. They are seen to be optimistic about their career prospects; for instance, the qualities they establish in these difficult situations will help them get elevated work opportunities. Overcoming adversity, after all, reveals a great deal about a specific individual and strength of character. Women’s perseverance also requires recognition and success.