I’m the only woman working on a team of seven at a fashion tech startup.
Yeah, that’s right, fashion. Wantering, a “Google for Fashion," allows you to discover and shop for fashion across a curated list of e-commerce sites all in one place. The brains behind the platform? Its four male cofounders.
Men working in fashion isn’t a new thing. Look at the success of designers Michael Kors and Tom Ford or the digital innovation of Zappos’ founder Tony Hsieh. Yet for some reason, the fashion industry is still thought of as a female-dominated workplace. When asked who I work with, every single person I speak with is surprised at the level of testosterone at our office.
So what’s the big deal? I had no idea that working with a team of all men would affect how I behave and communicate at work. Here are six lessons that I’ve learned from hanging out at the Boys Club.
1. Talk It Out.
We all know the importance of communicating, but I tend to hold things in. Men don’t do that. If you’re concerned with something your coworker did or said, talk about it. Say what you mean, too; there’s no need to be cryptic about it.
2. Wait Your Turn.
It’s called a team for a reason. When you instill a strong sense of respect for everyone on your team by talking in turn during meetings or scrums, each member gets a chance to speak up and feel heard.
3. Don't Take It Personally.
This is a hard one to crack. Constructive criticism is what it is: constructive. Adjust your mind-set so that you can make changes for the better instead of dwell on negativity. Everyone has something to learn.
4. Get To The Point.
If it takes a long time to explain something, chances are the other person wants you to just get to the point. There’s nothing wrong with being descriptive, but focus on what’s actually important so that you can be more efficient.
5. Have Fun.
There are stereotypes to working with a group of men that sound more like play than work, but the reason for so much Lego and the snack wall in the office? It’s okay to have some fun. In fact, making time to get to know your colleagues can create a more tight-knit and collaborative work environment.
6. Yes, Lean In.
Not just because it remains one of the hottest topics in career advice for women right now, but because it’s true. Raise your hand, sit at the table, and make your voice heard. Men don’t hesitate as much when it comes time to showcasing skills and knowledge. Remember, you’ve got nowhere to go but up.
When you get along with everyone at work and have a great team connection, it doesn’t really matter how many men or women are in the room. What’s important is taking away lessons learned from the people with whom you spend 40 hours (or more!) a week, in the same room.
[Image: Flickr user Michael Mandiberg]