top of page
Developing Female Mental Toughness Male-dominated Industries

Developing Female Mental Toughness in Male Dominated Industries

Research shows that women in leadership positions enhance competitive advantage and gender diversity in leadership correlates with better organisational effectiveness and higher financial results with little advancement of female representation in male dominated industries. With 2018 being the 100th year anniversary of women receiving the right to vote, this reinvigorated discussions about the continuing underrepresentation of women in the workforce and highlighting the lack of progress in gender equality. Despite the introduction of laws to address inequality, the statistics are not improving suggesting businesses may be focused on ticking the box on diversity, rather than creating an inclusive culture.

Research shows there has been little or no advancement of women in leadership roles in male-dominated organisations. Male-dominated industries are particularly susceptible to reinforcing masculine stereotypes that make it even harder for women to excel. Gender ratios in male-dominated industries influences leadership styles, which increases stress and mental health issues. Research shows existing development strategies are failing to enable women to progress in these organisations. Research shows that gender inequalities are shaped by male-dominated organisational structures and decision makers’ biases about female leaders. The ability of female leaders to overcome these biases was found to be a considerable factor in organisational and individual success. The organisations entrenched masculine culture was identified as a further contributing factor in the formation of accepted practices that allowed discrimination of female leaders and showed masculine culture was a significant factor in resulting discrimination and bias.

The research found that all participants considered mental toughness to be a significant contributor to their performance at work. It confirmed that being mentally tough delivered improvements in positive behaviour and wellbeing and developed confidence, self-belief and optimism. This research found mental toughness was seen as a mind-set that influenced how an individual dealt with stressors and challenges. Three significant qualities were identified that influenced development of mental toughness mindsets:

  • Individual identity.

  • Self – awareness

  • Positive mindsets

Of what relevance is the Massai to the cultures of Western working environments? The Massai are one of the oldest male dominated cultures, under the leadership of Emmanuelle he is revolutionising the traditional gender taboos and traditions to ensure his tribes survive and are competitive in a modern world. He is doing it better than us and quicker than us. He has recognised what needs to be done and is taking systemic and focused action to change the role of women in the community – leading the way by role modelling the behaviours and actions needed to ensure the change is effective with no room for debate about what good looks like. They are working together, men and women harnessing the strength of their community to make accelerated and sustainable change. The Massai women are mentally tough and have the confidence and self-belief to be the best they just need the cultural environment and rights to enable them to do this. There are hard hitting messages relevant to all of us:

  • Strong male leadership represented

  • Having a strong and compelling WHY

  • The CEO being ruthlessly focused on identifying the entrenched taboos

  • Being courageous to tackle into sorting out the unacceptable practices to break down the “ Boys club “

  • Being brave on developing female identity – tackle the alpha woman /super bitch stereotypes

  • Supporting the male leaders to not be fearful of their changing identity and helping them develop a new more modern identity

  • Recognising that women are the main carers and respecting this in practices

  • Helping their leaders to tackle the culture they work in but bolding them 100% to account to call out bad behaviour

  • Working together as one community to make the changes

  • Looking at the greater challenges not just short term gain eg climate change impacting their farming etc

  • Providing Education as the key to developing the young talent

  • Having Strong female role models as advocates

Bringing together our findings from our ground-breaking MSc research( the first research on this topic) and lessons learnt from the Massai tribes on female leaders in male dominated cultures shows that the key areas for our programmes focus are:

  • Self awareness

  • Identity

  • Purpose

  • Mental Fitness

  • Having a Voice

WOOT Yellow linesAsset 1_4x
bottom of page