‘How to Create Impact as a Female Leader in Male-Dominated Fields’ was the final panel of the Women & Worth Summit. The panel consisted of Alicia Levine, head of equities and capital markets advisory at BNY Mellon Wealth Management, Flori Marquez, cofounder and SVP of Operations at BlockFi, and Dia Simms, CEO of Lobos 1707 Tequila & Mezcal, moderated by Worth’s senior editor Micki Wagner.
The panelists discussed how women are experiencing hardships in male-dominated industries, and how Levine, Simms and Marquez have powered through them in their own careers. The panel exemplified how women are changing the narrative and proved that women are capable of being equal to their male counterparts.
Universally, the panelists shared struggles and roadblocks they faced in their careers. Throughout her career, Marquez realized she couldn’t let the roadblocks stop her. She was in control of her approach to her future.
“Many people did not believe in our story [at BlockFi], and did not see the future potential of our products,” Marquez said. “I think that it ties together with the narrative that when you are building something or building yourself up, it really comes down to your own fundamental belief that you know you can do something and the external validation will not always be there…sticking to your idea and your principles until they come to fruition is the key to success.”
Like Marquez, Levine recognized women having a lack of confidence in male-dominated industries can set them back. She made the connection between imposter syndrome and lack of confidence and described it as when someone believes they are in a role because of a favor, not because they deserve to be there.
“Confidence comes from knowing your worth,” Levine said. “Many of us wait for people to say ‘you did a great job.’ What women need to understand is that those kinds of days may not happen, but you know you are doing a good job… get to know people and don’t stay in your silo; as you get to know people, your confidence grows.”
Many women are holding back from reaching their highest potential because of self-doubt and lack of confidence. Breaking that cycle is when women will begin to make a change. “Put yourself out there—be social, be forward, ask for advice and get out of your rural area,” Levine said.
Furthermore, mentorship plays a key role in the career paths of women, especially women in male-dominated sectors. “The concept of mentorship from what it meant 20 years ago is different,” Simms said. “Active advocates and legitimate allies are quite helpful. Mentorship involves two-way benefits, and it does not need to be as formalized. I mean, I have learned a lot of things from my Uber driver.”
Simms also went on to say how important it is for women in male-heavy sectors to empower other women, so as to begin dismantling systems that were not originally built for women.
“There are so many structural factors as we try to change existing industries; it’s quite difficult…We are trying to fight a system that was not set up for diversity of women…it’s just how it is,” Simms said. “As women in business, it is our role to change this narrative, which begins with making small changes, like encouraging women—making sure no matter what side of the table you are sitting on, you are advocating for the other person.”
In order to change the narrative away from an industry being deemed “male-dominated,” there needs to be drastic change. Simms cited that if we stay on our current trajectory, it will take well over 100 years before industries are no longer male-dominated.
“We have a long way to go, and it’s almost debilitating at a USA level,” Simms said. “It is something we have to address more urgently with actual measurements and an understanding that it is not a charitable initiative.”
Levine agreed and spoke about how it is up to women to begin to make change. “It is each of our responsibilities to break that statistic. When thinking about whether I should ask for that job or that raise, know that in order to speed up this process don’t feel bad, ask for more, break the statistics… get a little angry about it because chances are you are underpaid [compared to] the guy down the hall.”