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Leaving the Classroom 31: 3 Ways to Adapt to a Male-Dominated Team

#formerteacher #leaving the classroom podcast #leavingteaching #leavingtheclassroom #lifeafterteaching #teachercareertransitions adapt male-dominatedcorporateenvironment Nov 25, 2023
Leaving the classroom podcast episode 31: 3 ways to adapt to a male-dominated team graphic with Kristi Oliva's photo with a black chalboard in the background.

Leaving the Classroom: A Transitioning Teacher Podcast

3 Ways to Adapt to a Male-Dominated Team

In this episode, Kristi Oliva discusses three ways she has learned to adapt to working in a male-dominated corporate environment after transitioning from the female-dominated field of teaching. She talks about managing her emotions, participating in meetings, and stopping unnecessary apologizing. The goal of the podcast is to help other teachers gain confidence and skills to make a career change.

Tune in to find out:

- The three ways Kristi Oliva has learned to adapt to working in a male-dominated corporate environment after transitioning from teaching, including managing emotions, participating in meetings, and stopping unnecessary apologizing

- How Kristi Oliva manages her emotions in meetings by listening more than speaking, taking notes, and not taking things personally

- How Kristi Oliva participates in meetings with colleagues she sees as smarter than her by speaking up, asking questions, and showing her full attention

Listen to the episode here:

Connect with Kristi on LinkedIn

This podcast is sponsored by IDOL Courses and is the only authorized vocational school and implementation program of its kind that not only shows you exactly how to create your job application assets and build a portfolio from scratch, but also includes credentials, mentorship, expert coaching, and paid experience opportunities in corporate instructional design and online learning for life! Learn more about the program here.


Enjoy the podcast transcription:

Welcome to Leaving the Classroom. This is a podcast for teachers who are ready to transition out of the classroom and into a new career. Each week I'll share stories about what I've learned moving from education to the corporate world. I'll answer the most common questions and share my best tips to help you get started. If you are considering leaving the classroom, this show is for you. 


Hello, everyone. Welcome to leaving the classroom. I'm Kristi Oliva. And I'm so glad you're here. Today I'm talking about what it is like leaving a female dominated career like teaching for a male dominated corporate space, and how I've adapted. Let's get in the mood. Picture yourself sitting in a meeting and getting constantly interrupted and talked over Taylor Swift's, The Man is playing in the background. I'm exaggerating, a little. Now I'm new, very new to the corporate game with only about four years experience but I've already noticed how working with more men changes things. You know, teaching is a women dominated field. Of the nearly 4 million teachers in the United States 74% are women. Which means I've mainly worked with women throughout my career. So when I transitioned to the corporate world, I expected to have to adapt, I knew there was going to be more men. At first it wasn't as bad as I thought. And I realized now that that was only because I was working in the learning and development space, which is still largely female with nearly 60% being women. But dropping from 74% to 60% is still a pretty big change in the makeup of your team. And now that I no longer work in the L&D specific space, my team is only 43% female makeup. So now I've gone to the complete other side. And now I am the minority on the team.

There are several things I've learned that have helped me adapt to the new team makeup and become a better communicator, honestly. So here are three ways that I have learned to adapt to working with more male colleagues. 


Number one, manage my emotions. You may be thinking I shouldn't have to manage my emotions. I mean, you're right. But let me just tell you that me I am one of the most emotional people you will ever meet. I cry for everything seriously, like bawling watching the Golden Bachelor cry. And I mean, I cried during most of the backstory montages on America's Got Talent. I don't discriminate, I swear, I just cry. And honestly, I know that can be a little bit annoying. I don't know, my, my eyes just tear up, I just gotta cry. So I've learned to manage my emotions and to take fewer things personally and more deep breaths. I listen more than I speak. And I document factual information. And I try to only use facts to make decisions. And so documenting during meetings, taking notes during meetings, helps me stick to the facts, instead of maybe how somebody made me feel when they said something, I like to write down the exact words so that I'm not blowing it up in my head later on. 


The second way that I adapt to working with more male colleagues is to participate. Now, being in a room with people that I am confident are smarter than me, and I'm not just talking about the males. There are obviously a lot of females still on my team. And I mean, they're all so smart. And it's one of the craziest feelings in the world to sit with people like that. When the people around seem to be speaking a language, I don't know, it's difficult to feel like I have anything valuable to offer. It's when I have the negative self talk that tells me that I don't know enough to be there. So I make sure that I participate. No matter what kind of meeting I'm in. I like to be on camera present and make sure I participate in a meaningful way. I speak up for things I believe in. I let my opinion be heard and I ask questions. But I'm quiet when I don't have anything to contribute. I still show up on camera still give my full attention. And I'm learning when to take information in and when I should speak up. And that's been really valuable participate. 


And number three, stop apologizing. I went to a three day Women's Leadership program at Amazon and they sent us a link to a Pantene commercial called, Sorry, Not Sorry. It shows all these women apologizing continuously in normal everyday situations where an apology, it's clear, is not really appropriate. A woman in a meeting says Sorry, can I just ask a stupid question? Sorry, do you have a minute, says another woman. A woman sits in a waiting room a man enters sits next to her and puts his arm on the armrest where her arm already is. She moves her arm away with a sorry. A mom struggles with holding her toddler and cooking. She hands her kid to the dad and says sorry. A man enters a meeting late and squeezes in at the end of the table, forcing the women to scoot over they say sorry. A woman in bed with her partner. She takes some covers back to her side with a sorry. A woman and a man speak at the same time she says sorry, you go first and he continues. Honestly, after seeing the Sorry, Not Sorry, commercial, and the discussion about women over apologizing, I began to notice how I was over apologizing in my life, both business and personal. And I changed it. I started by noticing. It's like when somebody tells you that you say um, a lot, then all you can hear is yourself saying, um, that's how it was with the word sorry, I realized I was doing a whole lot of apologizing and not as much standing confident in myself. 


So those are the three ways I've learned to adapt to a more male dominated work environment. Thank you for joining me today. 


Please subscribe and share this podcast with another teacher and leave me a review. My goal is to help as many teachers as possible gain the confidence and tools to leave the classroom. It's time to take control and make the career change that will change your life. It changed mine. See you next time. 


That's all for this episode, but you can find more at or subscribe to the podcast. And if you are ready to leave the classroom, use my code classroom100 And get $100 off enrollment to IDOL courses Academy.


Send your stories or your questions to [email protected] or share them with me on Instagram  @leavingtheclassroom.