12 Ways To Embrace Your Femininity In A Male-Dominated Work Environment

Now more than ever before, women are breaking into traditionally male-dominated spaces.

By Thea Martin5 min read
Pexels/Ron Lach

It’s empowering and exciting – but it can also be difficult to keep in touch with your femininity while spending so much time surrounded by men. These tips will help you maintain your professional success while still nurturing your feminine side! Although these tips can certainly be applied to countless careers, I know firsthand that all of these methods are used by successful women in one of the most male-dominated spaces in our society: the military. 

As an active duty officer in the United States Army, I spend most of my time in a very male-dominated environment. Over the years, I’ve noticed that if I don’t intentionally nurture my feminine side, it’s easy to get lost in masculine energy. Though the number of women in the military is increasing, this isn’t a problem unique to female service members. Traditional feminine energy is continually under attack in all areas of our society, and it’s more important than ever to protect your feminine energy. Luckily, it’s easier than you think!

Don’t Shy Away from Makeup

If you’re surrounded by men at the office all day, you might feel a little self-conscious about putting on makeup. But natural makeup can be clean and professional, and it will seriously boost your confidence. For all the makeup content flooding social media, there are still some professions in which taking the time to do your makeup in the morning is considered self-absorbed and unprofessional. But if you find makeup fun and feminine, try wearing it to work! Your favorite natural makeup routine can have you looking professional and prepared for your day – and it can also give you the confidence to take on whatever challenges you may face. 

Try a New Hair Look

Whether you’re in a more physically demanding job or just prefer to keep your hair up in the office, it’s easy to just throw your hair into the same ponytail day after day. One of the easiest ways to boost your energy and confidence in the morning is to try a new hairstyle! My go-to is a slicked-back bun, but there are lots of other hairstyles that keep your hair out of the way while still looking cute. Try adding a few braids into your repertoire and maybe even add a cute claw clip into the weekly rotation. One of my favorite hacks is using a leave-in conditioner or a hair mask in place of other products. You’ll look fantastic and sneak in some hair care throughout the day!

Manicures Are Your New Best Friend

Whether you get them done professionally or have an at-home nail care routine, nothing makes you look and feel more put-together than clean nails. There’s even evidence to suggest that getting a manicure can improve your mental health! Unfortunately, the military limits nail colors to nude shades. Luckily for us, natural manicures are timeless and elegant! If your career doesn’t dictate your nail polish color, feel free to try something a little more fun and feminine! A classic French or simple red manicure is cute and professional – and it will never go out of style. 

Shine On! 

With jewelry, I recommend the same approach as makeup: less is more. Choose a few high-quality staple pieces and add them to your rotation. Don’t go overboard with colorful, chunky jewelry. Instead, choose simple gold or silver pieces with a few pearls or gemstones. Even a cute watch makes a great (and functional) accessory. For my fellow military girls out there, this applies to you too! Check your branch-specific regulations to be sure – but in most duty uniforms, women are allowed simple earrings, a watch, and one ring per hand (a wedding set counts as one ring). Adding light jewelry in the morning is the perfect finishing touch to any business outfit. If you’re in uniform, it’s a great chance for a little bit of individuality!

Find Your Signature Scent

This one can be a ton of fun! There’s something uniquely feminine about finding a signature scent that matches your personality. Even in the Army, there are no rules against smelling amazing. Try out a few different scents and see which one makes you feel the best. If you’re not a perfume person, you can try a scented body or hair spray, or simply apply your favorite scented lotion before getting dressed. Remember, it's about finding a scent that you enjoy and that makes you feel good!

Wear Those Heels! 

In the Army, I spend 99% of my time in a camouflage uniform and combat boots. They’re functional, but certainly not a fashion statement. So, on the rare occasion that I get to wear my dress uniform, I always opt for the heels. It makes me feel empowered and reminds me that it’s possible to feel feminine in a uniform. If your job has a dress code that requires functional over fashionable outfits, I encourage you to dress in a feminine style as much as possible. Whether it’s wearing a dress to an after-work function, or simply choosing cute outfits on the weekend. Clothes – and shoes – are powerful, and a great tool to help you feel more feminine.

Establish Daily Routines

Instagram influencers have tried to convince us all that we need a 17-step daily morning routine and a nightly wind-down routine that lasts upwards of two hours. Most of us are just too busy for that kind of thing. However, I encourage you to pick a few steps that make you feel good and try to incorporate them into your daily schedule. For me, it’s a very simple skincare routine twice a day: once in the morning and once at night. It takes about two minutes and makes me feel grounded. Sandwiching your day with a few minutes focused on just a little bit of self-care can make a huge difference. Whether it’s meditation in the morning, a cup of tea at night, or any other small habit, try finding something that will make you feel like you’re starting and ending your day on the right foot.

Treat Yourself!

Speaking of self-care, just a few minutes per day is a great start, but it likely isn’t enough. Influencers and modern culture have done some damage here, though. They’ve convinced us that our self-care routines must consist of regular spa days, cosmetic surgeries, and vacations that cost thousands of dollars. All you really need is an hour or so per week. Maybe it’s your weekly everything shower followed by your favorite face mask. Maybe once in a while, you splurge for a massage appointment or a spa facial. Whatever it is, try your best to find something that relaxes you and prioritizes your own well-being, even if it’s just for an hour a week.

Pick Up Some Hobbies! 

There are countless hobbies that can help you get in touch with your feminine side. Try picking up a musical instrument, taking some art classes, or experimenting with some new recipes. You can even try out a new form of exercise like pilates or yoga! Having hobbies that are completely separate from your work is a great way to stay grounded in who you are and minimize work-related stress.

Nurture Your Relationships with Other Women

Mentorships and friendships with other women (both in and out of the military) have been a cornerstone of my personal and professional life for years. If you don’t already, make an effort to prioritize your relationships with other women as much as possible. Seek out female mentors in your workplace, and try to connect with the other women you work with – even if it’s just casually as coworkers. Most importantly, prioritize your friendships with women outside work. A few months ago, I realized that most of my social interactions outside work were with other service members. While I truly value those relationships, it meant that I was never really leaving work at work, and there was almost no separation between my personal and professional lives. Recently, I’ve started to prioritize my friendships outside work. It’s great to go out with friends and not have to talk about work at all. Having healthy female friendships in all areas of your life is not only a great way to embrace your femininity, but it’s also a key to a healthy social life. 

Mind Your Mindset

When it comes to living or working in a male-dominated environment, it’s especially important to make sure you have a strong mindset. Remind yourself that you bring unique gifts to the table as a feminine presence in your workplace. If you’re feeling overshadowed by the men around you, remember that women approach problems very differently. Instead of trying to fit into a masculine environment, remember all of the amazing traits that set you apart. Learning to harness your feminine power will help you voice your opinions with confidence and compassion – and instantly earn the respect of the men around you. Never suppress the gifts that make you you!

Be Kind to Yourself

Of this entire list, this might be the hardest one to actually accomplish. As women, we often expect perfection from ourselves and become our biggest critic when we fall short. Especially in male-dominated environments, many women are very quick to believe they are not enough. It’s okay to have high standards for yourself; just don’t be your own worst enemy. When you make a mistake (whether it’s in your personal or professional life), do some self-reflection, commit to self-improvement, and then move on. Find peace in knowing that you are doing your best, and try having a little bit of grace for yourself whenever possible.

Closing Thoughts

No matter your career or walk of life, we can all get out of touch with our feminine side from time to time. I hope these tips provide you with a few ideas or reminders of ways you can nurture your femininity in your daily life. It’s important to find habits that work for you and do them with intention. Pick a few of these habits and commit to trying them for a month. Your inner beauty will shine through, and you’ll feel more confident in no time!

Disclaimer: The views presented in this article are the personal opinions of the writer, and are not representative of the United States military or the Department of Defense. 

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