Recent movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp have raised awareness about the need for equality in the workplace. Female leaders share what it’s like to rise to the top in male-dominated industries and how each of us can be a role model for change.

Women Rising: How to Succeed in Male-Dominated Industries

Though there’s been greater awareness about pushing for gender equality in the workplace in light of recent movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, change doesn’t happen overnight and many industries remain overwhelmingly male dominated. Female leaders in the Girls’ Lounge at Cannes Lions 2018 share what it’s like to rise to the top in male-dominated industries, how to challenge the status quo, and how each of us can be a role model for change.

On owning your strengths…

“I was often the only female who was as [senior] as I was [at my company]…There was consistent feedback on ways that I should show up differently. After presentations I would get, ‘Can you not talk so much about being a wife or being a mother?’ They were perceived weaknesses…Most of my clients were female and my consumers were female and this “weakness” was actually a strength…I found the confidence to say, ‘This is why you need me in the room, because I am a person speaking from a place of understanding.”~Renee Blake, Chief Creative Officer, eBay North America

“I was surrounding by big sales personalities…I’m a processor and I’m thoughtful and measured in my communications…My silence [at work] started to breed mistrust. I realized it was important for me to be in the conversation—even if I didn’t think it was the most enlightening comment. But I also had to educate [the men at my workplace] about my communication style and help them see value in that. You don’t want to turn into someone you’re not, you want to be yourself, but you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone and say, ‘This is what I think and it may not be what you think, but this is where I see value.’…It created recognition that I was at the table because I was different…and bringing a different viewpoint really elevated our game.”~Danielle Lee, Global Head of Partner Solutions, ‎Spotify

On why we need more women at the table…

“Once there were other women present, I found myself a lot more able to get to the work and say what I thought without spending a lot of energy thinking, ‘Did [what I just said] come out the right way?’  ~Meredith Kopit Levien, EVP and Chief Operating Officer, The New York Times

“Bring your authentic self [to work] because you can take that processing out of the equation, and bring your best work to the table.” ~Cathy Song Novelli, Global Head of Corporate Marketing, Quantcast 

On saying yes to opportunities…

“After coming back from maternity leave with my second child, my boss had quit. He wanted to make me his successor. I didn’t want the job. I was like, ‘I’m still trying to figure out how to have two kids and make work work’…but I [was encouraged to raise my hand] and I got the job…You’re not always going to be completely ready and the time won’t always be perfect, but sometimes you have to just go for it and get the support and know you’re not in this alone.” ~Danielle Lee, Spotify

On asking for what you need…

“Demand what you need. I didn’t do that early on in my career, but I find that when you do, the world kind of works around you….Schedule your life and then work will schedule around you. As long as you’re contributing and producing results, that’s all that matters at the end of the day.” ~Michelle Wirth, Head of Industry, Automotive, Quantcast

Female leaders in the Girls' Lounge
Female leaders in the Girls’ Lounge at Cannes Lions 2018 on how to break through in male-dominated industries.

On the penalties of parenthood…

“I was returning to work [at a previous company] after being on maternity leave with my first daughter. My boss at the time—who I loved—said, ‘I really need you to be in the office more. It has nothing to do with your work, it’s great, but some of the young guys in the office are a little uncomfortable that you’re sometimes leaving.’ I thought, okay, good to know, and it really pushed me to find my replacement and quit…I went on to start my own company. It ultimately took me on a good path, but that’s not always the case.” ~Amy Friedlander Hoffman, Head of Business Development and Experiential Marketing, Uber

On not giving up…

“The key thing for all of us to remember ism no matter how hard it gets or much you want to quit, persevere. Just staying in the game keeps you in the game. You can’t even begin to imagine how big your life can be if you stop trying to control it. Just stay with it, be your best self, and the world will conspire with you.” ~Michelle Wirth, Quantcast

On work-life integration…

“Society needs parents who can integrate work and life more effectively, and if executives don’t show how they are doing it themselves, they’re missing an opportunity to model behavior.” ~Meredith Kopit Levien, The New York Times

On women supporting women…

“Traditionally there has been this myth there can be only one woman in a senior role…I’ve been in situations where I’m one of two women at the table, and observed a pattern where the other woman was very threatened by me…I grew up in an era where, as a black woman, you have to be excellent in order to be considered qualified, and so I show up very polished…Sometimes I think this perfection breeds a competitive spirit and that’s not my M.O.…

To change this dynamic, I had to think, ‘How do I bring people along with me so they’re not feeling threatened?’ There is power in vulnerability and in bringing people in early so they feel a part of it. It’s an effective technique to switch that dynamic,  because at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to win together.” ~Danielle Lee, ‎Spotify

“For me, sisterhood, or whatever you want to call it, and being a part of the Girls’ Lounge community has given me a sense of belonging that I’m not sure I would have been able to compensate for if I’d not had this…We’ve come of age as executives together grappling with these issues and supporting each other.” ~Meredith Kopit Levien, The New York Times

On doing what you believe is right…

“You get to a point where you are like, these are the conditions by which I will play. The more you can stand up for your colleagues and the things that you think are right, the better off everyone will be.”~Danielle Lee, ‎Spotify