Its Time To Use The Minority Advantage

Griselda Minority Advantage

Our weekly #Winners talk this week on twitter raised a question: What advice would you give to young women entering into an extremely male dominated industry? My advice is that they should seek to use the minority advantage.

Here are my personal thoughts and experiences on the issue.

Women outnumber men in the world but unfortunately in most business sectors, high-powered positions, boards and industries we are still a minority. I used to be really self-conscious about being the only woman or person of ethnic minority background in a room but not any more.

Like most women, I wanted to see a familiar face wherever I went and would desperately scan the room for friendly faces everywhere I went.

Sadly the circles I found myself in were predominantly male due to the industries I have worked in. Rather than continuing to feel alienated, I decided it would be more empowering to see my status as a minority as something positive, something of an opportunity that I could use to my advantage.

So I decided to flip this concept that I was a minority and therefore disadvantaged on its head. I realised that actually I always have an advantage because I will usually stand out no matter where I go, when others would need to work harder to be noticed and stand out. This is a gift in itself and one I have come to appreciate and feel grateful for. Whole industries have been created off the need for business people to be memorable, stand out and be noticed.

So, rather than try to hide my difference I embraced and accentuated it.

Rather than feel victimised and disadvantaged, I chose to feel empowered.

My difference means that I am able to be authentically myself without having to explain why I sometimes act differently and see things differently. I feel that it is kind of expected of me that I will act differently and see things in a different way and I have come to realise that this can be very liberating. This ability to be different and to bring a different perspective into discussions has been identified as crucial for business and for generating stronger more creative ideas and innovation in business.

You see most of the stories we tell ourselves, as women do not serve us well. These stories and beliefs hold us back, making us feel victimised, and prevents us from showing up strong and ready to be heard and seen and to request a place at the table.

It may be tough working in a male-dominated field but at the end of the day you are still in control of your own destiny. Your mind is your greatest asset and nobody can get in there unless you let them. The government and business leaders can only do so much for us women. Whether we show up, fight (yes no opportunity worth having is going to be handed to you on a silver platter) and take advantage of opportunities is entirely down to us.

Next time you find yourself in an environment when you are classed as a minority, definitely do scan the room and seek to connect with any other women around but don’t stop there: make sure you make the most of the opportunity that being different presents.

Like Maya Angelou said, we need to learn to walk into a room just as cool as we please.

Being a woman in a male-dominated field is not a disadvantage. Its only becomes a disadvantage when we continue to see it as such.

There is nothing to stop you except your own self-limiting thoughts.