Real Cougars Compete Successfully With Men In Business

Business woman I was one of the token females in an male dominated industry for over 20 years.  You don't find a place more gushing with testosterone than the floor of The New York Stock Exchange or an investment firm's trading department.  That's where I got my education in successfully dealing with men.

Women often struggle to figure out how to gain respect from male colleagues. It's imperative to establish yourself as an intelligent, no-nonsense part of the team. Here are some of my tips along with others from Dana Matiolli in a Wall Street Journal article.

Make sure women are valued. Before joining a firm in a male-dominated industry, make sure the company values and promotes women. Check to see if women are represented on the board and in leadership positions at the company.

Identify alpha and beta males. Separate the two types of men in the office. Alpha males have a "get it done" mind-set, so when speaking to an alpha co-worker, use "goal-oriented" language and get to the point quickly. Beta males are more concerned with collaboration and partnership, so tailor your language accordingly.

Find a mentor. My mentor was the senior partner of my firm and he taught me more about the investment business and life for that matter, than anyone I have ever known. I was so lucky to have him on my side. It made me work harder to make him proud.  If you can't find someone in the company to mentor you, join a professional organization and build connections there.

Speak assertively.  Eliminate the phrase I'm sorry from your vocabulary, unless it's truly warranted. Women tend to apologize for situations that they aren't responsible for.

Socialize with the boys. Sometimes you might feel out of place, but make your best effort to socialize with your male co-workers in formal and informal situations. Whether it's tagging along for lunch or drinks after work, important information is exchanged informally; being there to hear it may benefit your career

Don't assume stereotypical roles. Women are naturally nurturing and it's something you shouldn't be afraid to show at work. However, be careful to not appear servile. 

And finally, always show the powers that be you are loyal and can be trusted.  That goes a long way in promoting your career.


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