Ways To Survive A Male-Dominated Degree Abroad
Being abroad and trying to learn about your new country’s traditions is hard enough. Like trying your best to get used to eating antipasti and pasta at 10 o’clock after having had an aperitivo already at your home country’s dinner time. But on top of that, you will also meet lots of other people with different cultural backgrounds and values.
As a young woman who likes to take care of herself, but at the same time enjoys Accounting, Finance and Business, it dawned on me while being abroad that working in our globalized world also means meeting many people who may have a problem with that.
Both my two roommates and I have experienced situations where men with different cultural backgrounds in our own fields of study have expressed to us both directly and indirectly that “there is no way that we, as women, could be correct about a topic or could be more educated in a specific area than a man”.
As this was the first time I actually experienced somebody making such a difference between women and men and even discriminating against us, I had long talks about this topic with my close friends abroad. Here are some tips, that I hope will be helpful if you or a friend might find themselves in such a situation.
Don’t let them dim your light.
So you are up for a group work and you are the only female in the group? Sure, this can be intimidating at first. But fake it until you make it – aka show them your strong side! If you are discussing a certain project and try to find ways to solve problems together, engage and show them your skills. Almost all men respect and value women who really show engagement and action. After all, you are working partners so you should try and combine all the assets you have!
Don’t take it personally.
Men’s and women’s brains work differently. While women are less likely to tell you upfront that they don’t like your idea or what you just said, most men will surely tell you. This does not mean that they have a problem with you. Men tend to be more direct, so being the only or one of very few women in a male-dominated degree means learning that men are less likely to sugarcoat their opinions.
However, if you constantly feel like there is somebody who does not value your opinion or even ignores you when you talk, then it is time to communicate. Ask them if they have a problem with you personally or if you have hurt them in any way, because you do not feel treated fairly. Communication is the key. Most of the times once you talk to the gentleman and he will start to change his behavior.
In everything you do. If you want to get respected for your knowledge and who you are as a person, then leave the knee-high boots and miniskirts at home and dress elegant and chique. I am totally into fashion and I love everything that is unique (like velvet boots and black denim mini skirts). But I also know that in order to get respected you need to dress for success, and this holds true for jobs in business areas where the suit and tie are basically law.
I hope these tips have given you some ideas in how to feel comfortable in a male-dominated agree abroad. I would love to know about your experiences so far. Let me know in the comments section below!