DePaul University Career Center's Blog

Young Women Entering the Workforce: Showing Your Worth

By: Gloria Martinez, founder of WomenLed 

Gloria Martinez runs, which aims to celebrate women’s achievements in the workplace. As a college professor turned business owner, she knows all too well the ups and downs women can face when trying to advance their careers. She believes that while women have made advancements toward “shattering the glass ceiling,” there is still much to be done. It is her aim to help increase the number of women-led businesses by educating others about the topic.

As young women enter into the workforce, it is not always enough to be just good at a job. Sexism can create extra hurdles to overcome while trying to advance in male-dominated career paths. Although even subtle gender bias is challenging and unfair, there are ways to prove your worth and show your strengths to earn those top jobs.

Bolster Your Personal Skills

  1. Start by making yourself your personal best. For instance, if you want to be an executive in charge someday, try the simple task of dressing the part. Instead of your usual, casual garb, try assimilating leadership styles. When it comes time for hiring and promotions, bosses will already see you as professional, ambitious, and fitting the part of management due, in part, to your attitude and presence.
  2. Find an organization that you’re passionate about and volunteer in an official capacity. Volunteering can be a rewarding endeavor that opens up the opportunity to meet and network with other professionals. You can also use it on your resume, and gain invaluable experience in the process.
  3. Practice using assertive language. When women apologize at unnecessary times or don’t speak up when they know something, they can appear insecure. Remember, you undermine the hard work you put in when you are not confident and assertive.
  4. Realize that you bring value to your workplace. Don’t be afraid to show off your skills and education! Keep a list of all your successes and achievements to reference in the event that they may lend substance for your resume, cover letter, a promotion or project offer.

Strategies to Use in the Workplace

There are several ways you can gain respect in the workplace. Consider this:

  1. It’s okay to admit that you don’t know everything. It’s better to be open about not knowing something and ask for additional information or resources on the topic.
  2. Mistakes happen at work and it is best to own up to them. Taking responsibility for mistakes and finding ways to fix them are signs of leadership and strength. Be a problem solver, your bosses and peers will grow to respect you.
  3. Look for a mentor who is a leader in your field. Choose someone who is respected and knowledgeable; someone from which you can learn from. Mentors can help you analyze and get past problems you might encounter as well as help promote your skills and assets to peers.
  4. Make yourself knowledgeable about your company and field of work. If you are always extra prepared for meetings with knowledge and solutions to issues, you might get an opportunity to run a project or have influence on an important decision.
  5. Hone in on your negotiating skills. These will be key when it is time to talk about salary and advancement. We sometimes believe that our hard work will be rewarded automatically, but that’s not always the case. Many times you will have to market yourself and confidently ask for what you deserve.

Want more? Check out this article where several New York Times readers shared advice and strategies for young women in the workplace.

It may take some time to prove yourself, but stay positive even when faced with challenges. You will gain experience, wisdom, and respect by doing so. Even in male-dominated professions, the ones that put in the most work with integrity, humility, and gratitude will usually rise to the top. Keep climbing and glass ceilings will shatter.




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