I listened to a great clip this morning of Danika Patrick, the former race car driver, shedding light on being a woman in a male-dominated sport. It was quite refreshing as she did not once throw shade at others, specifically men, for the extra hurdles required of her. She simply called things like they are:
Women in some industries, careers, sports, and professions are just outside the norm.
So what will it take to bust through the roof? Well here’s what Danika had to say:
“Time. Time is just what you have to put in… doing what you do but doing it well over and over again… Desensitize them to something that’s out of the norm… There are some people you will never convince… it’s not like it’s just because you are a girl… It happens to guys too… If they have more reasons to think that you’re not capable, then it’s going to be a little more common for you… you have to put in your time. If you’re new you’ve got to do it, If you’re different you might have to do it a little longer, but it’s possible…”
This past weekend I experienced, albeit on a much more minor scale, exactly what Danika is talking about. I was playing Fortnite with “the guys,” and I couldn’t help but notice that not one of them paid any attention the first time I played. They chatted, refilled their drinks, and didn’t offer one piece of advice. After 10 minutes went by and they realized I was still playing and hadn’t died yet, they were a little surprised but unmoved. As the rotations kept on and I kept playing, I noticed something… they were slowly beginning to see I wasn’t going anywhere, I liked to play, and that I was actually fairly decent.
I was outside the norm. I had to prove myself. Prove that I wasn’t like most girls who usually try once or twice (or have zero interest in the first place) and move on – but instead, no different than the guys. I was just as capable and interested in playing the game as they were. Outside the norm, yes, but as they learned, I was just as much fun to play with.
If you are a female pioneer in a male-dominated industry, you will have to prove yourself. Not because you are female per se, but because you are different and outside the norm. I think there is often the misperception that certain jobs, careers, sports, industries are male dominated because they somehow discriminate against women or think women aren’t cut out for the job, when in fact maybe it’s because for years and years the norm was men. All people naturally base decisions and judgments off what they know – what is familiar – to make the best choices for our needs. When something outside the norm enters the picture, it is an unknown. It’s uncomfortable, raises doubt and is feared. That is normal. We naturally fall back on what we know as a way to protect ourselves or career or status… it’s human.
So yes. Women need to prove themselves over and over again and in doing so, we WILL become the norm. Others WILL have a frame of reference. We WILL become comfortable to others. And we will also pave the way for future women. Your efforts will make it easier for them one day. It may be tough. It may be frustrating. But the women of the future will thank you. No need to cause a big commotion. Just roll up your sleeves, put your nose to the grindstone, and with the grace possessed only by a lady, prove yourself.