It’s 2021 and women now outnumber men in the workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. A larger percentage of women earning college degrees and a growing number of female entrepreneurs means that an increasing number of women have moved into traditionally male-dominated industries in areas like retail operations, health care, and tech, according to a recent LinkedIn report on women in the U.S. Still, they’re earning less than their male counterparts even while their numbers are increasing.
Just because you may be underrepresented in a chosen field, doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing career. Just look at Kamala Harris, the first African-American, Indian-American female to become vice president of the United States. Her determination even became a meme: “I’m speaking” after responding to former Vice President Mike Pence who famously interrupted her during a VP debate.
Her response resonated with women everywhere as clips of their interaction were being shared all over social media. According to Forbes, she didn’t just become a meme but, “political groups like Swing Left and Etsy creators started making ‘I’m Speaking’ merchandise.” Her response sparked a conversation about the challenges women face working in male-dominated industries. According to nonprofit Catalyst, some of these challenges include, “higher stress and anxiety, sexual harassment, and lack of mentoring and career development.” Depending on how challenging working in that environment may be, some women cope by leaving the industry. Being a lawyer and a senator, Harris has worked in male-dominated industries all of her life, but that didn’t stop her from thriving in her career. She has taught us that the key to succeeding in your career is to believe in yourself, to be confident, and to stop caring about what other people think.
In January 2019, she announced that she was running for president. Although she dropped out of the presidential race due to a lack of funds, that did not stop her from getting to the White House. She didn’t get discouraged by other people’s comments. Instead, she continued to believe in herself. One could argue the odds were against her considering the U.S. has never had a female president but nevertheless, she became the first African-American, South Asian American to become vice president. In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning interview, she said, “I was raised to understand many people will tell you, ‘It is impossible,’ but don’t listen.’” She taught us that even if you hit a roadblock in your career you should let your passions drive you, not the opinions of other people.
Before becoming the vice president she had numerous high-profile positions including a senator and the attorney general of California. It wouldn’t have been possible for her to have such high profile positions without being confident in herself. At the VP debate, she taught us an important lesson about working in a male-dominated industry and that was to be confident in yourself and your abilities. She did not let Pence diminish her experience or knowledge. She knew that she deserved the right to be heard.
It may be a man’s world but that didn’t stop Kamala Harris. She was the boss for so many years of her life in a male-dominated industry. And you can be also. You just have to believe in yourself and let your passions drive you.