Acceptance in a Female Dominated Industry
Many emotive articles have been written on the pushback women frequently experience when trying to be accepted into male dominated industries, such as the engineering, technology, trucking, or construction sectors.
This was foremost in my mind, as a male, when I took on the seemingly impossible challenge of creating a beauty company, having spent most my working life in the rather male-centric IT industry. Would the female dominated beauty industry, and even my female customer target-market, be receptive to a male entering their domain?
Women still face discrimination and harassment when working in male-dominated work cultures, from trade jobs, right up to working in management positions within the banking industry. It is important to acknowledge that gender biases and stereotypes unfortunately do still exist in todays workplace. In turn this can impact how one can be perceived and treated.
Types of mistreatment can be in the form of sexual harassment, belittling and threatening behaviour, physical and verbally challenging, being underpaid because of gender, or given inferior and demeaning duties. The list goes on.
I personally witnessed many incidents of unfair treatment of females whilst I worked in merchant banking roles in various countries.
Would I be subjected to any pushback because of a combination of my industry knowledge (zero at the time), and/or experience, or just because of my gender?
I was nervous.
During the journey of developing my vision for Forbidden Beauty, I would be encountering, and working with, two different groups. The first would be from insiders within the beauty industry and supporting services companies, that I would need to help develop my product line. The second group would be the many focus groups I would arrange, made up of predominantly target-market females. These women would hopefully supply me invaluable feedback, from the various phases I went through on product development. How would these two groups perceive me, based on what I had witnessed and read about, when the gender roles are reversed in a female dominated industry?
I can honestly and categorically state that I was utterly stunned with how I was received.
The business insiders I met consisted of the highly skilled contract-manufacture factory team that would help formulate and produce my skincare moisturisers, the labelling company (that would also help with my branding), multiple beauty product manufacturers, and many other smaller, but no-less-important, players within the skincare and beauty products industry.
All these professional industry experts were very welcoming and embracing of my vision. I received none of the pushback that I was tentatively half-expecting – in fact, the total reverse happened.
These women (yes, they were all females I dealt with), were so giving of their time and expertise, breaking down the barriers that can be present in a female dominated industry. They all went far beyond any hopes I had, to help make Forbidden Beauty become what it is today. I was surprised and touched with the reception they gave me for my somewhat crazy ambitious goal.
So, would the female focus groups, that I needed valuable feedback from, give me any friction? These women, who each fitted my buyer persona, supplied me invaluable marketing insights on what they expected, and desired, in skincare and beauty products. Their feedback throughout the journey helped develop what I have on offer today. Once again, I was met with nothing but enthusiasm and encouragement. Many even arranged friends to attend so I could receive even more varied observations and suggestions.I cannot find words to express the gratitude I feel towards all the women that encouraged me and gave their precious time and expertise, as I tentatively progressed into the female-dominated world of skincare and beauty.
As a male, I am sadly aware that such warmth is not such a common occurrence when the gender roles are reversed in male dominated industries. The many articles one can find on discrimination and unfairness against women in the workplace, including within female dominated industry, support this worldwide viewpoint.
So I deeply thank all the wonderful women that helped me realize my vision and supported me, breaking down the barriers in the female dominated industry.
You helped create Forbidden Beauty.
(Founder and CEO – Forbidden Beauty Ltd)