Career Advice for Women in Male-Dominated Industries with Milla Bjorn


It is no secret that there is gender inequality in the workplace, from treatment to pay, women have historically been seen as inferior to their male counterparts. While this narrative is slowly changing, there is still a lot of work to be done for women’s equality in the workplace.

Milla Bjorn, an accomplished actress living in California’s Woodland Hills, explains that barriers still exist for women that do not exist for men. Having starred in dozens of theatrical productions, worked as a voice actor, and lent her voice, acting, and choreography to several major film productions, we spoke with Milla Bjorn about how women can thrive in male-dominated industries.

At the current rate of progress, it will take another 108 years to reach gender parity, according to the World Economic Forum’s most recent Global Gender Gap. Additionally, for every female film character, there at 2.24 men. The Geena Davis Institute analyzed 120 theatrical releases between 2010 and 2013 in 10 countries, and they found that of the 5,799 speaking or named characters, less than a third (30.9%) were women and more than a third (69.1%) were male. Based on these statistics, it is clear that women still have a lot of work to do to have equal representation in male-dominated industries.

Remain Assertive

Milla Bjorn explains that one of the best ways to compete in a male-dominated industry is to be assertive. Instead of being silent in meetings, readings, brainstorms, and gatherings, speak up and don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard. Being heard in male-dominated industries often means learning to not allow others to speak over or interrupt you. Of course, this doesn’t mean being rude or invite you to interrupt others but be firm about having your say and being engaged in the decision-making process. Your opinions and ideas are valuable, and you should feel confident enough to be able to share them.

Be a Life-Long Learner

Staying on top of your game means being engaged with your industry, specialty area and the broader market. This means being an aggressive life-long learner in your field. If you are in the film industry like Milla Bjorn, consider learning new accents, study characters on screen, and practice various roles on a consistent basis. Women do not want to be given a seat at the table on diversity merits alone—they want the opportunity to prove that they deserve to be there. Milla Bjorn explains that if you are constantly honing your skills and talents, you will be ready when an opportunity presents itself.

Navigate Stressful Situations

How you handle conflict in a position of power is a serious measure of success for your coworkers and colleagues. Women are powerful communicators, and Milla Bjorn explains that being able to calmly handle stressful situations is key to navigating a male-dominated industry. Instead of engaging in conflict or avoiding it entirely, learn to communicate by acknowledging the conflict and asking, “How do we move past this?” Don’t make or allow personal attacks. Make an effort not to send e-mail, engage or call anyone when you are angry or upset. You will also want to ensure that you do not hold a grudge and that you keep it professional.

When Megan Rapinoe and the U.S. team won the Women’s World Cup, she brought light to an issue that every industry continues to experience in this country: unequal treatment and pay. When Harvey Weinstein was arrested for his manipulation of dozens of female actresses over the duration of his career, it was our first glimpse into the uneven distribution of power that favors men. How women navigate their way in these scenarios and situations matters, and only when we are able to stand up for ourselves and our right to sit at the table will we be able to make progress.

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