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Your guidebook on being confident in a male dominated environment.
As James Brown once said, “This is a man’s world, but it wouldn’t be nothing without a woman.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Being college students, we have taken these four years to prepare ourselves for our future careers. What our professors aren’t teaching us is that as women, our role in the workplace and in life will look a lot different than men’s. As we get older and become more independent, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out where we stand in relationships, jobs, discussions, etc.
We have to be respectful but not a push-over. We can’t be rude but we need to be assertive if they are going to take us seriously. We can voice our opinions but we will have to wait, be interrupted or have it mansplained back to us.
After extensive research and personal experience, I have come up with a few tips to help you maintain your confidence in a “man’s world.”
People will tell you to ignore stereotypes - I’m telling you not to. Use people’s perspective on you to your advantage. For example, men automatically put women into four categories within 20 seconds of meeting them: the mom, the “promiscuous” one, the innocent one and for lack of a better word, the b!tch.
However, none of the derogatory labels listed above are appropriate. When establishing yourself as someone to be taken seriously, it is necessary to maintain your integrity, prove your responsibility, showcase your independence and always dress to impress. By creating a concoction of them all, you will have created a new word that they won’t even know the name of.
I got the opportunity to speak with Maddie Harvin, UT lecturer of hispanic studies.
Harvin gave some insight on her experience being a young professor and individual’s perspectives on her.
“Because I am so young, I get mistaken for a student. After I tell them I am a teacher and they act all shocked, I just stand there and smile. It’s really fun to see how they act when I am just nice after they insulted me,” Harvin said.
Pro Tip: People are going to misjudge you or misplace you throughout your life. EMBRACE IT! And take some advice from Harvin, kill them with kindness.
Dealing with Mansplaining
Be assertive. Be confident in your opinions but with regard to your tone. Be blunt, not rude. When you do this, it is very important to make eye contact, speak clearly and DO NOT second guess yourself.
Professor Harvin detailed that being vocal in meetings is a lot less effective than simply just presenting yourself as attentive.
“Body language is everything,” Harvin said.
Unfortunately, when we do speak up, sometimes we are overshadowed by the man who stood up after you and said the exact same thing except applause followed his little spiel.
Harvin expressed she loves when this happens because she has the perfect response:
“Thank you for repeating yourself back to me. Do you have anything to add?”
Crush His Ego
As of right now, most of us aren’t competing against a man for a promotion - we’re competing for a spot at the bar.
We can all collectively agree that our weekends consist of getting ready, going out, finding a guy to buy you a drink, and waking up the next morning for the debrief. Unfortunately, we all seem to end up running into the same problem when “looking for a guy.”
Can you ask? I can’t go up to him. Ooh what about him? - Why are we so nervous?
Let me introduce to you the number one way to break the ice before the bartender gets to you.
YOU: “So what are you drinking?” (pray it’s not cheap beer)
HIM: - whatever he says
YOU: “Ooh that sounds good,” *the bartender gets to you and you say, “I’ll have two..” and then whatever he says.
Almost immediately his testosterone kicks in and he’s all, “Wait, I should be buying you a drink,” and boom. You’ve found a free drink and a guy who thinks “you're not like other girls.”
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t foolproof but again, through extensive research I have found the approval rate to be 9 times out of 10.
You're in Your Head
Fake it ‘till you make it. We all have our insecurities and self doubts but when they consume us, we tend to project them onto other people. The main concept of being confident within yourself is doing it for you and no one else.
Do things that make you feel good and turn it into a habit. Working out, eating healthy and splurging on that lip liner are all great examples. The key is to not do these things because you want to look a certain way but because they make YOU feel good.
Nicole Mclaughlin, a student at UT, details that when growing up in California, there was always pressure placed on looks and tangible things.
She shared with Ablaze how she remains confident.
“I mean I just take time for myself. I think it’s just because I don’t care what people think about me anymore. I do it for me,” Mclaughlin said.
The world we live in has accepted these social norms that we all play into. We’ve labeled everyone to fit into a certain box because we are consumed with what other people think.
I’ve come to learn that the most confident people are the ones who have realized how to think for themselves, aren’t afraid to speak up, embrace their insecurities and somehow always know the bartender.