The following is a guest post by Katie K. Snapp, Author of “Skirt Strategies: 249 Success Tips for Women in Leadership” and  Founder of Enjoy!

Imagine yourself walking your dog on a lovely day. Fresh air, plenty of sunshine, and a cool breeze … since it is winter, let’s make that a warm breeze. You adjust to your dog’s gait, and are pulled slightly forward, but you expect that from him. He loves being out. So you tread on, wanting to soak in every minute of your outing.

A half-hour later your left shoulder, the one holding the leash, begins to ache. The dog has been subtly pulling now long enough now to send a message to you that he is poking at who is in control. This is taking some enjoyment out of the walk. That nagging pull is reaching its limit and makes it hard to enjoy the rest of the walk.

Now imagine your career as a wonderful walk. One that is filled with unknowing turns and exciting developments. In fact, for women, a career is more holistic to our lives than just a job that is in a segmented part of our lives. We see the whole picture. We value a job with meaning.  But in a male-dominated workplace there exists that nagging like the dog pulling you on your walk. It may even be imperceptible if you are not looking for it, but it is there. You are a minority, and without any malicious intent from any of the men that you work with, they set a culture that promotes a certain way to do things. It becomes the unwritten ground rule.

Although men have terrific inherent traits as leaders (individual decision-making, decisiveness, etc.), women have an impressive kit of skills as well. In fact, one report from McKinsey tells us that of the 9 attributes in the leadership stable, women naturally deploy 5 of them more than men.  Gender balance is an effort to promote work environments with a fair representation of men and women, so that the natural talents of both are encouraged.

In a male-dominated workplace, it is typical to see a woman compromising a natural approach because it feels inappropriate based on how the men are doing it. Gender balance strives to reach that tipping point where a diverse approach might be embraced. If the concept sounds too obtuse to you, that’s okay. Maybe you just watch for a while. But if you have ever been in a meeting where you contribute something that gets ignored, then a man says the same thing 5 minutes later to a round of applause, you know what I mean. It is a quirky dynamic.  Oh … and see the blog for a disclaimer of what I call “genderalizations.” I realize I am making broad statements.

Skirt Strategies was created to help women address personal development of their natural leadership traits. We identify one topic each month to drill down into, and January is all about male-dominated workplaces.

More about the gender topic and research at the blog

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