Just One of the Guys ...Again

by Sharmi Duncan

Last week we invited one of our new customers to use the brewery for their mid-year staff meeting. It was a great way for their team to see first-hand what we do and how we do it. When we broke for lunch and piled into the shuttle, I found myself looking around and smiling a bit.

Once again, I was the only woman in the crowd. In my career, that’s been a pretty common situation. And honestly, not to knock women, but I enjoy being one of the guys. Or rather, being the only female working among all the males.

Strangely enough, the last company I worked for comprised a team of three men and me. And now—hold on, big change—I work with five men. I’m not sure if I seek out all-male teams, if it’s a matter of the industries I’ve worked in or the positions I’ve held, or if it’s just chance, but I do know it works for me.

When I worked for the lighting company, the ratio of men to women was about 50/50, but in senior management, where I spent most of my career… well, you guessed it, I was the only female. I took great pride in that fact, and I felt an obligation to the women in our office because I represented women in leadership.

As a manager and leader, one of my focuses was always employee development. And it came with its challenges. I’m an attractive and intelligent woman. Sometimes that worked in my favor, but other times those traits made other women feel threatened—but that was their deal, not mine. I never gave in to claims that I was power hungry or controlling because the skills development and improvements I saw in my managers demonstrated that this wasn’t the case. And quite frankly, my track record proves otherwise. That wasn’t the only challenge of being a woman at the top. There’s a lot of bulls**t, politics, and frustration, but I can tell you this:  regardless of the challenges, it is worth it.

I support my business sisters! I know we aren’t treated equally. I know we aren’t paid equally, but I also know from experience that it is possible.

And now here I am again, working with a bunch of guys. It works.

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