By: Meaghan Ziemba, 2023 Industry Advocacy Winner
This year, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Empowering Women in Industry annual event in Chicago, IL at the gorgeous Intercontinental Hotel. Against the backdrop of the city’s skyline, women from diverse professional backgrounds gathered under one roof, united by a common theme: “Be Courageous.”
The event, echoing stories of resilience and determination, shed light on what it truly means to be courageous in the face of challenges and adversities, especially within male-dominated industries like manufacturing and engineering.
As a first-timer, I was overwhelmed with love and support from the other attendees, and at the event’s conclusion, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride for all the accomplishments women have achieved over the years in engineering, manufacturing, and the trades.
Not only did I walk away feeling empowered and more confident, but I also walked away with incredible insights, new friends, and beautiful memories.
So, what does it mean to be courageous in male-dominated industries? From my observations of the event, being courageous embodies several qualities and taking specific actions to navigate challenges, break barriers, and drive positive change. To be courageous, you have to:
Have confidence in your abilities - We have all felt the dreaded imposter syndrome and questioned at some point in our careers if we are good enough and the right person for the job. Having confidence in your abilities is recognizing your expertise and believing in your capacity to contribute meaningfully to the field you’re in.
Have resilience in the face of adversity - As women in male-dominated industries, we understand that setbacks and obstacles are part of the journey. We know that they help make us more resilient so that we can bounce back from our failures, learn from our mistakes, and pursue them as opportunities for growth.
Advocate for yourself - As courageous professionals, we proactively advocate not only for ourselves but for others like us. We go for the promotions, are confident negotiating for equal pay, and pursue opportunities for career advancements. Advocating for ourselves also means actively seeking out mentorships and networking with influential figures within our industries.
Challenge gender stereotypes - As courageous women in male-dominated industries, we don’t conform to predefined roles but redefine them, proving to men and women that we can excel in technical and leadership positions.
Support other women - We no longer have to fight for a chair at the table. We can either pull up other chairs or build our own table to support and uplift other women in our industries. We can mentor one another, create inclusive work environments, and foster a sense of camaraderie among our female colleagues because we know that collaborative efforts break down barriers faster than individual efforts.
Pursue continuous learning and skill development - Being courageous means investing in ourselves and continuous learning so we can stay up-to-date on industry trends, acquire new skills, and seek out opportunities for professional development. This knowledge helps us remain competitive and innovative.
Have effective communication - As courageous individuals, we communicate assertively and effectively. We aren’t afraid to express our ideas, concerns, and ambitions clearly to ensure our voices are heard and our contributions recognized.
Promote diversity and inclusion - We know the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Diverse teams and diversity of thought promote innovation and profitability. We aren’t afraid to advocate for policies and practices that create equal opportunities for all employees, regardless of gender, race, or background.
Lead by example - Every single woman that I met at the Empowering Women in Industry event was a fine example of a courageous leader. Not only did they demonstrate authenticity, resilience, and acceptance in their actions and words, but they inspired others around them to emulate those qualities.
I left the event with a renewed spirit, armed with the knowledge that being courageous means challenging the status quo, stepping outside of our comfort zones, embracing fear as a stepping stone to success, and facing difficult situations head-on.
How will you be courageous today?
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