A reoccurring theme in many women’s lives is being excluded from the Good Ol’ Boys’ club. Many, many women have felt resistance in a varying atmospheres including skepticism, technology, science, athletics, etc. The consistent dismissal from these groups inhibits women from flourishing in arenas that have predominantly been a single gender affair.
Last week, I attended a leadership workshop for women in the sciences. The attendees were at various points in their career ranging from undergraduates to department heads. A resounding theme was women often feel excluded from groups of their male peers. The same discussion has been prolific in skeptical circles for years. I have experienced these challenges in my personal and professional lives. It is unfortunate that women have to deal with these problems, but there are certain strategies I have employed to overcome gender obstacles. So here is my simple guide to ‘Infiltrating the Good Ol’ Boys’ Club’.
1. Consistently work hard. To become a card carrying member of the good ol’ boys’ club takes a lot of hard work. This should be obvious, but sometimes I have seen women give up too easily. It takes a consistent, diligent performance. More often than not, it takes working harder and longer than your male counterparts to gain the same level of praise or accomplishment. In many environments, it took me six months to gain the same amount of credibility that a man walked in with. These are unfortunate circumstances, but real ones. Over the years, I have done my best not to be deterred from these situations, but instead used them as motivation to propel me forward.
2. Use your voice. Speaking up in new environments allows people to develop an opinion about you. It is inevitable that you are going to be pitted against a misogynist at some point, but many men aren’t that way. You can gain acceptance by interacting with them. Chances are if you are trying to gain admission by a particular group of men, then you already have something in common. It means you will agree on some things, but not all things. Let your voice be heard, but do it in a way that commands their respect. The more logical of voice you place forward, the better chance it will be accepted amongst the group.
3. Get out there. Some times you just have to walk into a situation you are not explicitly invited to. If you never take the initiative, then the boys club may never realize that you are interested in being included. Once you are there, don’t forget to speak up. Sometimes you might even have to pry to gain an invitation. One of my favorite strategies is to invite one or two of the group to do something, even if it is as simple as having a cup of coffee or a beer. This can allow you to get to know a smaller portion of the group, without having the pressure of interacting with the entire group at a particular function. Once you are out plant the idea of being included in a desired function where you wouldn’t necessarily be on the list. Infiltrating must be done step by step, it won’t happen overnight.
4. Earn your respect. All of the previous points culminate into this point. Respect must be earned. I think this applies to life in general. However, particularly in these environments, men don’t just offer it up unless it is deeply deserved. Many times you have to offer respect to them, before receiving it in return. No, it isn’t fair, but it is a harsh reality. Finally, you should not have a sexual relationship with any of these men. Hopefully, this is an obvious point. Men talk (no matter what secrecy they might guarantee you) and your credibility will immediately be diminished. Once you feel included in the club, then wait another six months. Then maybe this rule can bend. However, you should exercise with extreme caution. It could blow the whole thing.
These are things that have been successful for me in the past. This is all much easier for me to write down than they are for you to do. Don’t allow yourself to get intimidated. Time to infiltrate, ladies!