I was having a conversation with someone recently about being not only a woman in a male-dominated industry but also a young one. I started in the industry when I was 23 years old. When I first started, I had no idea what I was doing and you could read that on my face the minute you looked at me. But I made it my mission to learn as much as I could to be able to do the best job I could. Fast forward to now, still young but I know a lot more and am much more confident in my knowledge of industry. I worked hard to get to where I am at this moment and it took a lot of self-teaching and many hours in the machine shop to make up for the learning curve I had not having a technical degree. And there’s still much more I want to learn!
All of that being said, I still struggle with not being taken seriously because of my age. I was listening to our most recent Empowering Women in Industry Podcast with guest, Shereen Yusuff, and she spoke about being a young woman in the oil & gas sector and that the biggest struggle for her when she started in the industry was not knowing if people were judging her for being a woman or for being young. That really resonated with me because I’ve had the same struggle. Shereen says that despite these struggles, we need to be confident and keep speaking up.
The longer I’ve been in this industry and the more I continue to learn, the confidence factor just keeps growing and growing. However, I do still feel this pressure of not “looking” the part. Most recently, feeling like I’m too young to be the one talking to other women about Empowering Women in Industry. Another thing I learned from listening to Shereen was that we don’t have to wait to start making a difference, we can start right now. To me, this is what Empowering Women in Industry is all about. It’s making the difference right now and helping to pave the path for the next generations so that they don’t have the same struggles working in male-dominated industries. It’s teaching ourselves how to be the leaders that we need even if we don’t see ourselves as leaders quite yet.
I encourage any and ALL women in male-dominated fields to come to our conference but even more, I hope that all of the young women in industry that feel both of those pressures come and learn and grow with us…with me! We’re going to be the leaders that we maybe didn’t have to look up to, so we better get to work!