So many of us know the struggle of being a woman of color in a male-dominated workplace. We must be soft as to not be attitudinal, but not too soft as to still be a boss. We must be kind, as to not be a "b*tch", but not too kind as to not be a pushover. We're constantly faced with having to tone down our strength and assertiveness, but not too much because we still need to be effective leaders. For some, there's a constant battle of diminishing who you are to fit a standard of 'professionalism' the workplace demands — a standard that was not created for us or by us. This is a challenging reality to face and even more challenging to manage.
But all is not lost. Though we might have to play the game a little, we deserve to be here and that's become increasingly evident. Women are rising to the occasion and creating organizational shifts that only we can. But getting here was not easy, and staying here won't be either.
The following gems are provided by #GirlBosses who own their womanhood and femininity and still thrive in their respective industries. These tips come from women in medicine, finance, higher education, law enforcement, and politics. Though this list is not all-inclusive, it will certainly help you cement your footing toward promotion and tackle the day-to-day struggles of being a woman in a man's working world.
Trust Your Instincts & Skill-set.
When operating in a male-dominated space one of the most important things is confidence. Understand that you were hired for a reason. Your specific skill-set and knowledge base is an asset to the company, and you must trust that. So often, we question our decisions based on the opposition of a co-worker. Instead, stand tall in what you know, and trust that what you feel is right is actually right. Recognize the value you bring to the company, and honor it by speaking up and sharing your expertise. You know more than you think you do.
"The confidence that you have in your work ethic and knowledge should never waiver. Sometimes in this environment silence is interpreted as a deficiency in knowledge or lack of conviction. Speak up and be confident in yourself." — Huiam Mubarak, MD, Neurology
"Trusting my instincts meant doing what felt right in the moment. Whether it be inquiring about an oddity in existing processes or simply relying on my intuition, I learned to trust my gut feeling as I navigate through my career. It's not enough just to listen to your gut feeling... you have to actually trust it." — Daena A. Barnes, Programming Supervisor/Build Engineer, Financial Technology
Stop Trying to be Nice.
Business woman showing she means business
Playing nice — which is often considered as timid in the workplace — will not guarantee you professional growth. By the time the Chief of Police taught me this lesson, I'd been working in the office for about a year. The lesson came after a very steamy meeting with him and a few lieutenants — some of them women. He left the meeting feeling accomplished and stopped at my desk to exclaim how being nice doesn't get you far in a man's world. I held onto that as I began navigating various male-dominant workspaces.
Being nice alone doesn't get you many places. I've watched women and men alike, get chewed up and spit out because they thought their niceness would open doors. Alternatively, I've watched the biggest jerks get the best promotions, not because they were jerks, but because at the end of their poor behavior was a mind (and results) that couldn't be ignored.
The truth is, business is business, and that's what people are most concerned about. So yes, be kind, but at the forefront of that kindness should be business. Nice does not win you likes if your work is lacking — especially not if it's lacking because you were too busy being nice. Stop apologizing for being assertive because you'd rather be 'nice' instead. Stop saying sorry for "bothering" a colleague when you want a question answered, or being okay with unmet deadlines and excessive excuses.
Be business-minded and firm — and don't apologize for it.
Play the “Boy’s Game.”
Though it may suck, some industries require us to play the game. The easiest, most authentic way to do this is by simply making the decision-makers feel comfortable. Making them feel comfortable opens a door of closeness that may be required for being invited to the table. Don't compromise your morals to do so, but when possible, show them that you can hang too. Make witty jokes, participate in the conversation, partner with them on projects, and allow them to let their guard down around you. Show them that you can participate in the game, and promotion will surely follow.
"As I progress in my career, there are less women around at management and senior management meetings. Sure, there are women doing the every day work, but it's majority of men calling the hard shots. There are 7 levels above me to get to the CEO and only 1 level is occupied by a woman. This means, I have to play the 'boys game' and ensure I make the men feel comfortable around me. They are the ones that make the decisions regarding who gets the new clients and the big high profile opportunities. If they are not comfortable with you on a personal level, it is harder for them to want to give you the opportunity when it is their neck on the line." — C. Felicita Castro, Vice President, Finance Industry
Honor Your Lived Experiences.
As women — particularly women of color — we have specific lived experiences that set us apart from many of our counterparts. Dr. Huiam Mubarak believes in the importance of utilizing these experiences in the work we do, no matter what that work is. Being able to connect our own experiences to our work allows us to fulfill our roles more passionately — a trait that inspires us to thrive even when no one else is looking. It also helps us form deeper connections to the work and the people we serve, create a larger impact, and provide a diverse lens for which things should be considered. All of which makes our output unique to the company.
"You should always remember that your life experiences are invaluable in the care that you provide to your patients. Don't ever forget where you came from and who you are. Be proud of the things that others may consider a weakness and use it to your advantage." — Huiam Mubarak, MD, Neurology
Utilize Your Compassion.
Though compassion is innate and doesn't necessarily differ between men and women, the ways in which compassion is expressed does. Women, in general, experience more compassion in their lives than men. Officer Jill Knox, Victim Support Specialist, encourages women to use this to their advantage:
"The key for me has been the gift of talking and being familiar with so many people in my community. Sympathizing and being aware of what's going on with people helps me conquer as a Black woman."
Jill suggests that her ability to connect with the community where she works, positions her to accomplish more than her male counterparts. "People trust me," she says. And this trust helps Jill better serve her community. By utilizing her natural compassion, Jill has been able to successfully serve and form connections that keep her in the very position she worked hard to obtain. This is particularly useful for those working in fields that encourage community and client input for hiring and promotion decisions.
Establish a Firm Sister Circle.
Finding women in the workplace — and in your industry — is critical for ensuring you survive all that comes with being in a man's working world. Just like having sister-friends for your personal life, establishing a professional sister circle can serve as a support base, as mentorship, and as a means to remain level-headed when things get real. Contrary to your normal group of friends, your professional sister circle understands what it's like to do your work and be in the field. Because of this, they're able to offer specific insight to help you conquer within your respective industry and/or workplace. A professional sister circle will push you to greater heights professionally and will serve as a shoulder to cry on during your hardest days.
"From being the only woman of color in my classes to teaching students emboldened to call me out my name, the journey to becoming Dr. Yancy has taken more than given. To counter these feelings and experiences, some key people like my mom, my sister-circle, Dr. Kimberle Crenshaw, Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, and Dr. Shayla Nunnally, provided me with tools for radical self-care. From daily affirmations to creating space for myself and other sisters to speak truth to power and celebrate the complexity of being our full selves [in and out of this work] I now have the tools to use my voice, promote Black women's intellectualism, and ensure Black women are seated at the table."
— Brittney Yancy, Assistant Professor at Goodwin College, Doctoral Candidate at the University of Connecticut, and Ambassador to the United States of Women.
Are there any other tips that you learned that has helped you navigate yourself in a man's working world? Share them below!
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Zoe Hunter is the writer, speaker, and creator behind the women empowerment brand DEAR QUEENS. She uses vulnerability, storytelling, and spiritual development to empower women toward healthy decision-making. Stay connected to Zoe's work by visiting DEARQUEENS.com or following her on Twitter @zDEARQUEENS.
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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The Scorpio man and Pisces woman form a relationship that is heartfelt, sincere, and not for the weak. There is an immediate connection and familiarity between these two, being that they are both water signs and are both ruled by their emotions. They are on a similar playing field in life, yet they go about their desires in love in a very different way.
Scorpio Man And Pisces Woman Love Compatibility
Ultimately, a partnership being formed between the two is an intimate and emotionally transformative one, and this is a relationship they both never forget. Things can get messy, but if they are willing to do the work within, then the love can also be pretty amazing for them as well. They are all in or nothing when it comes to partnerships, and they learn a lot about true commitment and vulnerability through this pairing.
What attracts a Scorpio man to a Pisces woman?
The Scorpio man is attracted to the Pisces woman's mysterious aura and emotional demeanor. The Pisces woman is attracted to the same things as the Scorpio man. See, these two are more similar than most signs of the zodiac, and they can intuitively feel this about each other right away. Pisces and Scorpio often share similar interests and have a lot of opportunities to meet each other because they like to do the same things and are often in the same places. These are two creative and artistic souls, and there is something that they both find inspiring about each other right away.
The connection and synergy of a Pisces and Scorpio couple is undeniable, and there is a strong force in life that often brings these two together. The Pisces woman can feel that there is more to the surface than the Scorpio man presents right away, and this is instantly intriguing to her, being that she rules the 12th house, which is where everything is hidden in life. The Pisces woman has secrets of her own, and she sees the Scorpio man as someone who can resonate with how she feels and dive deeper into the relationship together.
What is the relationship like between a Pisces woman and a Scorpio man?
The relationship between the Pisces woman and the Scorpio man is emotional. Emotions run very high in this relationship, which is often a good thing, but can turn into something entirely different very quickly as well. The Pisces woman and Scorpio man often get into a relationship together quickly. They are not earth signs that take their time developing a relationship; they are water signs that base their decisions on their emotions and go with the flow of the currents here.
So when they meet and they feel that instant connection with each other, they often jump into a pairing with one another right away.
This couple will enjoy spending time together and will feel like they are deeply understood in the relationship. There is a comfort here that is truly profound, and if anything, they are best friends first and foremost. However, the Pisces woman and Scorpio man tend to let their emotions overwhelm them and can turn little things into something bigger. Arguments or disagreements in this relationship can get messy, and they are both somewhat emotionally impulsive. Neither will forgive and forget easily as well, so reaching a point of forgiveness or harmony after something challenging occurs may never happen.
This relationship works best if both parties have already experienced a long-term commitment or have learned their lessons in love and evolved. The longevity of the relationship will depend on how they begin it. However, the love they have for one another is undeniable.
What is the sex like between a Scorpio man and a Pisces woman?
The sex life between the Pisces woman and Scorpio man is transcendent. They tend to have no issues in the bedroom, and that instant connection they feel when they meet often has an underlying energy of sexual compatibility as well. This isn’t the type of couple to wait a long time to explore each other in the bedroom, and they form a deep intensity here right away. They are looking to connect on many different levels, and they feel enough compatibility in the connection to do so.
The Pisces woman is willing to explore in the bedroom, and the Scorpio man is ready for anything. This is a couple who will entertain role-play, bondage, etc., and there are a few limitations to what they are both interested in. With the Pisces woman providing a safe space to many, the Scorpio man feels comfortable opening up in many different ways, the main one including behind closed doors and in the bedroom. They are emotional at their core, however, and will still want a level of intimacy with each other that goes deeper than just sex, so although their sex life is great, there is more they both want at the end of the day.
What makes a relationship between a Pisces woman and a Scorpio man work?
What makes the relationship work between these two water signs, is that they both understand each other deeply. They don’t have to explain themselves or work too hard on getting to know each other because it’s almost instant that they do. They speak the same language, in other words, and they can learn a lot from each other in the process. They are more open with each other, and their more reclusive demeanor changes in the presence of one another. This is a couple that likes to spend time together doing things that each other has an interest in.
At the end of the day, these are just two people who want to love and be loved, and they can give each other that.
The Pisces woman helps the Scorpio man open up more, go with the flow, and trust the universe. The Scorpio man helps the Pisces woman step into her power, stick up for herself more, and live life fully. There is something creative and eye-opening about this pairing, and they create their own world together. Trust is everything between the both of them and once they have that, they lay the foundation for the relationship to grow and thrive.
What may cause a Scorpio man and a Pisces woman to break up?
The thing about a water sign relationship is that things can get messy. Emotions are always running high, and if they are not on the same page, this can lead to the energy of the relationship being all over the place. The Pisces woman is loyal, attentive, and compassionate, but she is also a free spirit who likes her space and freedom. The Scorpio man, on the other hand, craves deep intimacy and partnership and may have a hard time trusting the Pisces woman, and that trust needs to be had in a relationship.
Scorpio may find Pisces to be too wishy-washy for his liking, although Pisces just sees herself as someone open-minded and flexible and doesn't understand why the Scorpio man can’t be a little more like that as well.
This relationship can fall apart due to things becoming overwhelming too quickly. They tend to get into the relationship quickly and break up just as fast as well. If they can act on mental clarity as much as they do their emotions, then this can create a more solid ground for the relationship to grow and continue to grow upon. You would think that being with someone who is the same element as you is a recipe for success in a relationship, but two of the same things can be too much at the end of the day.
Summary: Is a Scorpio man and a Pisces woman compatible?
Ultimately, this is a relationship with high compatibility, and depending on the two people at hand, it will determine how things unfold here. They have the tools needed to form a sincere, loving, and compassionate relationship but will have to confront each other's differences with the same attitude to work. Once the first challenge or conflict arises in the relationship, how they handle it afterward will determine if the relationship is going to work out or not.
These two are perfect when things are going well, but can be dramatic when they are not. The Pisces woman and Scorpio man can’t get enough of each other at the end of the day, and this will indeed be a relationship that they will never forget.
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