I want to preface everything I’m about to say with this: I work at an organization, with a male CEO and male superiors and coworkers who are supportive of the women who work beside them, myself included. We are empowered to do our best. I have never been made to feel like I could not do my job because I am a woman. Quite the opposite. I’m fortunate, however, working in an industry where women are the minority, I still face some challenges. So I wanted to share my experience with the social dynamics of being a woman working in a male-dominated industry.
I can pinpoint the point where I became “one of the guys” to my teen years. My desire to get boys to like me led me to become heavily interested in sports. As an adult, now, my love of sports and my passion for working in the sports industry is authentic, but it did originate from this place of wanting to be “one of the guys.” Working in a male-dominated industry, like sports, is like getting paid to be one of the guys. Fortunately for me, it works because I kind of am one of the guys. But as a woman, that only gets you so far.
I’ll admit that in my three plus months of working for a major sports team, I’ve been frustrated by the fact that there are things my boss (a man) can do simply because he is a man. My role consists of interacting with male athletes, many of whom are my age. My boss can form relationships with these athletes much more easily and quickly than I can because he’s a man.
Men feel more comfortable around men, just as women generally feel more comfortable around women. But I’ve always felt comfortable around men who were my peers, and sometimes made male friends easier than female friends. So in navigating how to get to know these new coworkers of mine, it was frustrating to see things unfold more easily for my boss than for me. Once I got over that (and myself honestly), I focused on finding different ways to connect.
I’m still a woman, and to a point, I do second-guess how I behave so I don’t give off the wrong impression, sometimes restraining myself in ways that are contradictory to who I am. It is incredibly frustrating to feel like you can’t act like yourself. So what do I do? Honestly, I stopped caring about how I came off to others and just acted like me. And it’s worked.
In that process, however, I’ve had to appear on my game all the time around these guys, so they know I take my job seriously and I’m not someone they can push around. Recently, my boss told me he had asked one of the players what the team thought about me. He said they thought I was great, but definitely didn’t put up their shit. I loved this answer.
This last weekend, I was on my second solo away game with the team and it was the first time I felt like they were 100% comfortable around me. I was so proud of that.
I know that I’m fortunate and have a resilient personality that makes being around so many men easier, and that this isn’t always the case for many women.
Is this fair? Probably not. It doesn’t really matter if it’s fair, because wherever we go, as women, we need to work just a little harder for the things we want anyway. And in the end, that works toward our advantage because women are so much more resilient as a result. So embrace the struggle and own who you are. Use it to your advantage. Be one of the guys and then add a flare of femininity and push those around you to be better.
In the end the girl who tried to be “one of the guys” to get guys to like her, authentically became one of the guys — one who loves her heels on gameday. My love of sports fueled my desire to work in sports and today, I’m working in my dream job.
/written by Gaby Lozada
/image by Abigail Keenan