How do you position yourself as a woman in a male dominated industry?
You might be shocked to know that after all, 26 out of the 30 highest-paying jobs in the US are male-dominated. In comparison, 23 out of the 30 lowest-paying jobs in the US are female-dominated.
What are some of the challenges experienced by women working in male-dominated industries:
- Lack of mentoring and career development opportunities
- Sexual harassment
- Societal expectations and beliefs about women’s inability to lead
- Pervasive stereotypes
- High Anxiety and stress related experienced compared to women working in other industry
Of course, some of these industries don’t even design uniforms for women…
Here is an exclusive interview with Veronica Castro. Trained and experienced in culture diversity, women studies, engineering and construction management, she is an equity and inclusion programs in STEM, IT and construction. Her skills excel expectations when comes to generating results in negotiations, program & project management, operation, risk assessment, training facilitator, human resources. Founder of non-profit organization “Solidarity Project” for underprivileged communities in Peru.
Veronica Castro: From highlands of Peru to the high’s of New York
Born in Concepcion and raised in Huancayo, in the highlands of Peru, Veronica is from humble origins. She immigrated to the U.S.A in 2000 and she was reunited with her mother after 5 years. She started working full time at a fast food restaurant, and began taking classes to learn the language. She had to switch jobs every semester and finally 2 years later completed the ESL program. College education was not something that she considered due to limited financial resources.
However, she enrolled in an academic mentorship program and met her counselor Juan Alvarez. He observed that Veronica was working two jobs, going to school and able to maintain a perfect point score. One day he asked “ What is next in your journey? Aren’t you going to pursue your bachelor’s degree?” Her response was “ I’ll be getting a job and start saving money.” Little that she knew about scholarships and financial aid programs for higher education. At that time, Juan encouraged her to apply for different educational grants and universities. Unfortunately months later, he passed away due to cancer. Because of Juan’s encouragement, Veronica was able to apply and win an essay contest, which enabled her to buy her first laptop.
Next, she applied to various engineering programs on the East coast, 6 months later, she was accepted at Drexel University in Philadelphia with the President’s scholarship. This financial aid helped her through the first year and she graduated in 2009.
Recalling the 2008 economic crash, after graduation, finding a job was more challenging than ever. She started working for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), main role was planning and executing construction projects in biomedical research facilities.
Years later, she joined the private sector and worked in various STEM industries such as real estate, construction in biomedical research infrastructure, cloud infrastructure, low voltage, telecommunications and dry underground utilities.
Succeeding in a male dominated industry
Veronica joined Amazon in 2016 as Infrastructure Manager, and had various roles that allowed her to learn the business from a global perspective.
Trained and experienced in culture diversity, women studies, engineering and construction management, Veronica Castro’s skills excel expectations when it comes to generating results in negotiations, program & project management, operation, risk assessment, training facilitator, human resources, and quality assurance. Bilingual professional focused on human capital and engineering management, Veronica is the founder of Spot of Solutions, Inc. – a consultancy firm designed to promote diversity, equity and inclusion programs in STEM, IT and construction. An advocate for women’s untapped talent, Veronica is Co-founder of a non-profit organization “Solidarity Project” where she led support efforts for underprivileged communities in Peru and participated as a volunteer on programs for youth and children.
When asked what is the role of personal branding in her leadership journey, Veronica said:
Being a consultant and being a woman in a stem and IT, industries dominated by men, I have been dedicating my time to empower other women, share awareness, and discuss things such as:
- What are your rights?
- How do you negotiate your talent?
- How can you make sure you are visible?
On my question of how she defines, believes and manages her personal brand, as a woman in a male dominated industry, Veronica said:
“It’s important to recognize that today we have gaps in the system and training women from underrepresented groups, raising awareness should be our first priority. Right now, anything that we are doing is not only for today’s generation, but we’re impacting the future generations. I come from a long line of women, I have nieces, my youngest niece is four years old. When I look at her, I feel courageous, I feel inspired to make a positive impact for generations to come. But we all have to start somewhere. In my case, I decided to start helping women to learn how to utilize digital platforms. Women lack the training. We do a lot of great things, but we’re not utilizing the digital tools correctly yet. So there is a lot of work to do.”
When she joined the private sector, she worked with male dominated industries, such as real estate, constructions in biomedical research, infrastructure, cloud infrastructure, she had to learn the hard way… She will always remember how hard it is to take the next step into advancing her career and this is what drives her to create awareness and support for other women..
“I became resilient, resilient to change, and I learned to adapt, to embrace challenges as opportunities, instead of narrowing my energy into feeling rejected. The one thought that I’ve always had in my mind was ‘ How can I create a better life? How could I impact others?’ For me, giving and being able to contribute to the world, goes beyond financial compensation. I am at a stage in my life when I ask myself ‘What do I want to be remembered for?’
I am always willing to learn and align my purpose with my personal branding. It’s important to play my role as a woman, to share my values. And at the same time, I am constantly raising awareness, opening other women’s self perception. And believe it or not, we have the opportunity to build a fair community that not only helps empower women, but also creates an equal ecosystem for both men and women.
When we look into underprivileged communities, countries like Peru, there is a lot of room for education and support systems”