As attractive as female-led jobs like nursing and teaching may be to a great deal of women, there is a small percentage who are personally driven to enter a male dominated profession.
Women in recent decades have entered the male dominated workforce in droves and now match their levels of participation in specific occupations such as medicine, law, accounting and science –a lot of us can’t really see those jobs any other way though, right? To us, it’s the norm that women have gained momentum in those professions.
Yet in sectors like building and transport, there hasn’t been much change from the early to mid 1900s, and it all comes down to less pay, fewer resources, and gender specific bias.
But there’s one Australian woman sitting strong behind the wheel of a race car who is commanding authority in a male dominated industry and hopes other women will follow suit.
Overtaking a male dominated industry in the fast lane
Emily Duggan is just 27-years-old and hails from Sydney, Australia, but already she’s making her mark in the world of Motorsport as she settles in to her fourth year of race car driving.
Unlike other drivers who entered the sport through family influence (the cliché father working on an old engine with his son in the garage every weekend), Duggan pushed her way through simply for the love of it.
“I didn’t have a family in Motorsport and I didn’t know anyone, my love for cars and enjoyment out of driving them fast was what captured my curiosity to race,” she says.
“I bought my own race car, towed it to the race track myself, and have pushed myself throughout my career to train hard, win races, secure fast lap times and take every opportunity that comes my way.”
Duggan knows the difficulties that come with working in a male dominated industry, and has expressed openly some of the challenges she has faced.
“One of the worst things about working (in race car driving) is being seen as less equal at times,” she says.
“Sometimes it’s the small things, and you can miss out on a lot when you’re different from the rest; it can work to your advantage, but other times it’s a missed opportunity.
“A lot of the guys I know in Motorsport are straight shooters, and I can come across harsh at times because I know exactly what I want.
“In a male dominated environment, that kind of attitude works well for that, you’ve got to be confident in what you want or want to achieve.”
Duggan is positive more women can start taking on roles that are perceived to be in favour of men, and says it’s important to have resources such as mentors to assist in moving forward.
“I know I would have started racing a long time ago if I saw women in the sport,” she says.
“If you find your passion, the passion that jumps you out of bed in the morning at 3am and it feels like Christmas every time you get to do it…just do it.
“You only get to live to your life once, there isn’t a rule that you have to have a boring job, your passion is your passion so just go after it!”
Have practical strategies if you are in a male dominated industry
For those wanting to enter a profession but are just unsure of how they might stack up, having practical strategies can be helpful.
Work with a mentor, focus on all the positive elements of the job, speak up about discriminatory hiring or promotion practices, and support fellow women in the workplace.
When you see an inspirational woman playing with the big boys, take her lead and follow suit. You might surprise yourself with what you can achieve.