I was recently asked to be on a podcast “That’s When I Knew” and it really made me start thinking about my journey and how it got me to where I am today. Everyone has their own unique story but I hope that mine can inspire other young Women coming into or already working in a male dominated industry.
For those who don’t know, I work in sales and marketing at a wide format print studio. What is that? Well, when you see big wall murals, billboards, or vehicle wraps, that’s the kind of work that we do. My job is to market and sell this to other businesses. Whether small or large, I help them understand the importance of this visual marketing for their success. Not the easiest job right? Well, let’s kick it up a notch and consider the fact that 86% of people employed in printing are white males. On top of that, according to LinkedIn, Women only represent 39% of the sales workforce. Therefore, I’m in a white and male dominant industry as a young Latina Woman. Talk about the odds being against you.
When I first started this position, I was coming straight out of College and had zero experience in marketing. However, I had over 8 years of experience in sales already with a strong retail background so I came in already with a slight upper hand. That didn’t change the fact that I was intimidated with it all. Istayed very reserved for probably at least the whole first year. It wasn’t until I started actually making headway with sales and bringing in larger clients that my confidence boosted a bit. I always felt like I was inadequate or had what they call “impostor syndrome.” This is when you doubt your accomplishments and skills so much that you feel like a fraud. Once I started to see the results I thought to myself “I kind of kick ass at this.”
So many times I was looked at as timid and weak because I was young and a Woman. I wasn’t taken seriously for probably the first few years in my career. Every time somebody called the office, they would insist on speaking to the Owner. Even though he was just going to redirect the call back to me. If I had a really innovative idea at work, my boss would say things like “you’re smarter than you look.” Sometimes I would even get sent to deal with a particular client just because I was a Woman. The explanation would be “they want to work with a young hot Woman not an old man.” People don’t expect for someone like me to succeed at what I do based on my knowledge because statistics say so. This is why I would truly love to see more Women dominate in sales.
According to Business Insider, Women are 3% more likely than men to close the sale. That’s quite a difference when you’re looking at sales and commissions that could be made. So what makes Women better salespeople? Well, for starters we are powerful. When we go into a situation truly fearless, the confidence that we exude can be intimidating. Even to the most powerful man. From what I’ve noticed, men can be weak to almost any Woman when put into a situation. Women are also very empathetic and can better connect with customers in that way. Not only can they connect but they can truly nurture those client relationships. My customer service skills are 100% different than my male counterparts customer service skills. What he thinks is going above and beyond is barely scratching the surface in my eyes because I like to really nurture the relationship.
So, my piece of advice to you young Women entering the workforce in a male dominant industry is to know your worth. Understand that you are where you are because of the work that you’ve done and nobody can take that away from you. You’re not a fraud, you’re not faking your way through it. You’ve made it this far because of your determination. You are just as capable to do the job as well as any man if not more. Let that shine when you’re in the workplace and NEVER be afraid to speak up. It took me 27 years to find my voice and just barely within the past year I’ve started using it more. Lastly, be fearless. Men in the workplace won’t mess with you once they see your strength. Let your work speak for itself and stay true to who you are, always.