How to establish yourself as an expert in your speciality

The gender divide still exists when it comes to specialities, and the realm of surgery is just one of them.

In the UK, the  proportion of female NHS doctors has increased on a yearly basis since 2009, yet although they make up over three quarters of the NHS workforce, they still hold a minority of senior positions – 37%, to be exact.

Women specialising in a given field, be it medicine, technology, or other fields, often need to highlight their expertise in order to achieve a more fitting position in an organisation.

Although the precise actions you may need to take vary according to your speciality, which steps can you benefit from taking right now?

Obtaining recognition

Recognition is an important step to promotion, yet in many specialty fields, women can feel unmotivated by excess bureaucracy, lack of communication, and hierarchy, as found in a study by the Society of Women Engineers.

In this speciality, double the number of women leave the field as men do, with more than half leaving when they reach mid-level positions. It is vital to obtain recognition from superiors – a task that is multifaceted and complex.

Women not only need to seize key opportunities and roles that reveal their skill and talent, but also build a solid network that provides the recognition they require to succeed.

Networks should be built both in and out of the company, to counter-balance and correct ingrained issues such as difficulties with supervisors and lack of promotion opportunities.

Seeking mentorship

Mentoring is growing in popularity as a learning and development intervention and it has real, practical benefits for women in a wide variety of fields. Mentorship can be defined as “a supportive, confidential relationship that allows one to realise and achieve their potential.”

Rather than providing mono-directional benefits, it is about the exchange of values. Finding a female mentor that has shone in your speciality can teach important skills such as being open to approaches from younger professionals, and remove obstacles to success such as self-doubt. Mentors can teach you to improve your authority.

This is an often difficult yet learnable task. It ranges from communicating confidently to  using optimal online resources to back claims or suggestions. They can also help correct the way you present reports and point out interesting works to include in your bibliography.

Promoting gender balance

In an organisation in which all employees’ ideas count, you can initiate change by promoting awareness of gender differences in your speciality.

Experts can be invited to discuss gender imbalance, and you can try to ensure attendance between men and women is balanced by asking younger colleagues to join. The latter can also be invited to provide interesting ideas regarding how to address imbalances in their speciality.

In many professional fields, the percentage of women is smaller. This is particularly evident in the medical and technological industries.

Women wishing to stand out should aim to select tasks and roles strategically, choosing those which will enable them to shine. Building strong networks, finding a mentor, and initiating changes at work are additional ways to show you mean business.

Photo by Ani Kolleshi