Early in 2020, I asked 80 women from my own personal network to join my newly created LinkedIn group for women in male-dominated industries. If I can brag for just a moment, the women in my network are awesome.  Whether they just finished their degrees as the first one in their family to go to college, they are the CEOs of major companies, or somewhere in between, they are all bright, purposeful, and driven women. I was pleasantly surprised that all but  one person joined my group.

What surprised me even more was their enthusiasm about having been asked to join . Some told me they were honored that I would consider them. Others said they were so happy, they were crying.  I was shocked by the outpouring of emotion that came from my invitation.

I think I touched on an important realization. Despite how successful we may seem to the outside world, our day-to-day lives in male-dominated workplaces can be a struggle. We can feel underestimated, sidelined, and overwhelmed. In the midst of all of those feelings, we can forget that in reality we are smart, talented, trailblazers.

According to McKinsey, women in male-dominated fields are three times likely to feel as if  they have to provide more evidence of their competence than others do.[i]

Is this you?  Let’s find out with the quiz below.

Read the following list and note any that apply to you.

  1. I have been accused of only being a diversity hire.
  2. I have been assumed to be someone with fewer credentials.
  3. I have been interrupted or had my ideas stolen in a meeting.
  4. I have been excluded from after-work social activities because, “it’s just the guys”, or “we assumed you didn’t like that kind of music/activity”.
  5. I have been subjected to inappropriate comments about my hair, clothes, or shoes.
  6. I have had to leave a meeting and walk to another building to find a bathroom.
  7. I have been told I am too ambitious.
  8. I have been told I am too direct, or not direct enough.
  9. I have been told not to be so hard on a male peer because it will hurt his ego.
  10. I have been told to smile no matter how I actually feel.

Did you note any?



You are a smart, talented, trailblazer!

How do I know?

Because you have already figured out how to get to where you are today despite having to go through the adversities I listed above, and probably many, many more.

Not convinced? Of course, you are not. Women in male-dominated fields are three times more likely to feel as if  they have to provide more evidence of their competence than others do.[i]

But here is the thing, you’ve already demonstrated that you are smart, tenacious, thoughtful, and resilient. You’ve already persevered through rigorous training in what was likely a challenging and sometimes isolating environment. 

Don’t get me wrong, you might have some gaps in skills or experiences that you need to close in order to reach your next goal. In my book and in my blog, I write about how to diagnose what those gaps are and close them. 

But most importantly, I write to remind you:

You already have what it takes to do anything you choose to do.

You are a smart, talented, trailblazer. 

In case you’re interested, my score is 10/10.

[i] “Women in the Workplace 2020,” by Sarah Coury, Jess Huang, Ankur Kumar, Sara Prince, Alexis Krivkovich, and Lareina Yee,, September 30, 2020,


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