How to Infiltrate The Good Ol’ Boys Club

It happens that I work in a field that attracts men, and (for whatever reason) intimidates women.

When I got my first big promotion I was ecstatic. I felt that big times are coming my way. I felt I could move mountains and fly to the moon. Then I found myself in a room full of men.

I was the only woman in meetings. I have to admit that in the beginning I was intimidated being the only woman in the room. Later, I started to get annoyed. I got frustrated with the way I was treated by my male counterparts. I noticed that most of the time my opinion was dismissed or overlooked. My voice wasn’t heard. If by some miracle my opinion was heard, my words were taken with a huge dose of skepticism. And sarcasm. And obvious doubt.

After some time the good ol’ boys’ consistent dismissal started to get to me. I wondered if I ever would be not just noticed, but heard and respected. One day I had enough and made a plan to infiltrate the good ol’ boys club for three reasons:

  1. I wanted to prove to myself that I deserved the promotion I got;
  2. I wanted to show that I can do my job;
  3. I wanted to be respected.

To be honest, I did not want to belong to the good ol’ boys club. I am not big on any affiliations. However, I decided that I did not want to send emails and get responses that addressed my boss and ignored me. I did not need to look into these men’s faces and see “you are a woman, what do you know” dismissive smiles. I simply wanted to be able to express my opinion, and get a meaningful response.

Therefore I came up with Six Steps To Infiltration

  1. I accepted the notion that there will be no major change in the good ol’ boys club. I was not the one to bring that change. I needed to adapt.
  2. I started to wear more professional clothes. Men mostly wear suits, right? Initially, I dressed somewhat business casual, then I started to wear suits too. I wanted to come across as professional as I could be.
  3. I tried to learn as much as I could about my new responsibilities. I put in a lot of hours, and a lot of effort to make sure I was staying on top of things. The more I learned, the more confidence I gained.
  4. I took initiative and invited myself into situations I would never be invited otherwise. I volunteered to research. I volunteered to prepare spreadsheets. I took more responsibilities. This allowed me to get noticed.
  5. I trained myself (almost forcibly) to speak up. It was very intimidating at first. But I learned from my experience that if I did not voice my opinion (that was as valuable as anyone’s else), I would never be heard.
  6. I figured out that respect should be earned. It was very difficult to earn respect of the good ol’ boys club but it was possible. What is the most valuable asset that earns the most respect? Knowledge. The more you know, the more respect you earn.

Have I successfully infiltrated the good ol’ boys club? Not yet! It is still a work-in-progress, and it, probably, will remain a work-in-progress for a long time. However things are getting better. Slowly.

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10 Responses to “How to Infiltrate The Good Ol’ Boys Club”

  1. Well that sucks. I don’t really know what it’s like, being a dude and all, but it sounds sucky. Having to change your clothes to fit in with those douches? Having them not respect your opinion solely because you’re a chick? Not cool, not cool. Good luck breaking into that crusty old club!
    TB at BlueCollarWorkman recently posted..Lifestyle Carnival – 24th EditionMy Profile

  2. Daniel says:

    This sounds like it will be a very interesting experiment, and I wish you the best! Does your Boys’ Club have a specific political landscape to it?
    Does your group have some clear leaders in the group? If there are more than one, does each of them have their own trusted advisor? Does it seem like many of the decisions are made outside of the meeting, and that the meeting is just a formality?

    • Your Boss says:

      I can’t go into many details but I will say this: political landscape – yes, very particular one; leaders – yes, there are leaders, let’s say two. I don’t know about advisors but they listen to each other most of the time, and follow each other’s advice. No, surprisingly, meeting are not just a formality but a lot of follow-up decisions are made behind the closed doors.

  3. Good for you setting out a plan but to me as a bloke it seems a bit much. You sound like a smart woman who knows what she wants.. do go get it. Don’t be afraid to speak up, speak louder, question people and call them out.If they don’t acknowledge, jump on it, get in their faces. Mrs.CBB is that way and has always worked with men. If you want to get to the top show them you mean business, outsmart them but work as a team, offer more suggestions and question theirs. I’ve worked with many brilliant women whom I look up to. Sounds to me like you have a team of men who need a kick in the arse. This happens not only at work but even here on the internet. There will always be teams, groups, clubs that stick together… I say.. you only live once so give it your best shot. No one is in charge of your destiny but you so don’t let those blokes fuel you unless it fuels you to be you. As far as dress, well go with the code of the organization. If professional dress is the norm then you should follow suit as you not only are an employee you represent the company. Good Luck and keep us posted. Mr.CBB
    Canadianbudgetbinder recently posted..Surviving A Lower Income On Maternity Leave In CanadaMy Profile

  4. That’s pretty rude of those men. But good for you for working hard to get yourself noticed. I hope things continue to get better for you ! :)
    Gillian @ Money After Graduation recently posted..Five Tips for a Happy (frugal!) HalloweenMy Profile

  5. I did live in mostly men’s world for six years – mid to high management. Still remember the first time I was the only woman around the table and we were discussing something that mattered for change. After a big great debate one the lads said: ‘It is d*cks on table time.’ I was so furious that my response was: ‘I bet mine is bigger than yours.’

    Rude, I know. But guess what? After that I never had to wear a suit and they watched what they say!

  6. First, I’m heartened by the number of commenters who recognize this as a problem with the “good ol’ boys club” and not simply as the way it has always been. It gives me hope for the future.
    But like you, I am currently working my way up, and even in what is considered a female dominant field (healthcare) those at the top are mostly male. I agree first and foremost with dressing more formally- wear suits even if your dress code is business casual. The suit not only gets attention but it gives you more confidence.
    I love the idea of volunteering to take on more work and in that sense forcing them to recognize you and your abilities.
    I wish you the best of luck and hope to be following not too far behind you.

  7. It’s very refreshing to hear about your courage and candor in the face of such idiots! Good for you keep up the good work!

  8. Lana Hope says:

    Good for you. Why I hate jobs, though. 😛


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