Words of Advice from an Inc. Success Story – Forget Gender

Now that I own my own business, I find myself reading more and more business-oriented websites.  Inc. is one of those sites.  While reading yesterday, I found one of their success stories intriguing.

Theresa Alfaro Daytner is the owner of a construction company.  Inc.’s success story is here: http://www.inc.com/video/201101/success-stories-daytner-construction-group.html.

There’s one question in particular that stands out:

What would you say to other women looking to break into male-dominated fields?

3:10 Theresa: As a woman, coming into a male-dominated field, look at the opportunities I have to redefine how we do it. So, I’m very intent on value-add to our clients. I really want to be a partner with our clients, and I gravitate toward the type of clients and projects that profoundly impact me, whether that’s in education, health care… Those are things that I naturally gravitate toward. So, what I would tell women who are interested is, “I wouldn’t worry about whether there are more men or women in a particular field.” If you feel like you have the resources to put together in a particular area to be exceptional at it, whether it’s something that more women are in, like marketing or advertising, or something like construction or engineering. If you think you can be excellent at it from a business model standpoint, and you’re passionate about the value-add that you can bring there, I say there’s really nothing that should stand in your way.

These words of advice are so very true. When I decided to explore computers professionally, it was based on a few things – (1) I could make better money with less effort in computers rather than in music, (2) I had a lot of fun tinkering around with code at home – from releasing a freeware address book on NoNags to working on websites, I liked it all, and (3) while I knew it was a male-dominated field, I wasn’t going to college for my MRS degree (awful joke some people made) – I had my supportive boyfriend back then and didn’t put any thought like that towards my friends.

I pursued a field that I was not only interested in from an educational standpoint, but I was also interested in tinkering with as a hobby.  I knew that I could work in the field writing business apps – if I could stay focused enough to write something as simple as an address book application, then I could handle writing serious applications.  However, at the end of the day, I knew I’d probably go home to work on some other projects, since I really really enjoyed playing with code.  It didn’t matter if it was Visual Basic, HTML, Perl, or even my nemesis at the time  – Javascript.  Here I am, out of college almost 10 years, playing with computers for over a decade,  and it still hasn’t gotten me bored or driven me away.  And you know what… I never considered the gender factor through any of this because I was too busy doing what I loved and wasn’t taught to worry about these factors.

So I agree with Theresa’s advice – if you think you can be excellent at whatever it is you’re interested in from a business model standpoint and you’re passionate about it, then go for it.  Live your dreams!

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