What It’s Like Being the Only Guy On a Team Full of Women

Image by Armstrong Productions via Pauleanna Reid.

There’s something powerful about this picture. A table filled with women gathering early on a Saturday morning to discuss the goals of the company. I feel emotional every time I look at it, and I hope people are inspired by this image, as well.

I know I’ve been inspired and continue to be motivated by these women. Each of them are leaders, each of them are talented — some insanely so — and all of them are focused on using their talents to enhance our mission.

For some reason I’ve been allowed into this circle, and I’m grateful that I’ve given the trust and confidence in my ability to share a seat at this table. There are certainly interesting moments when I’m reminded I’m the only boy. Like when I read group emails with the opening line, “Hey ladies.” I think it’s hilarious, then I don’t think much about it at all. For me, working with a team made up of all women isn’t a big deal. The real big deal is the amazing work we get done.

Allow me to brag for a minute. Our Writer’s Blok ghostwriting team is made up of about half a dozen writers, including myself. Our credits include Forbes, Vogue, Inc., Fortune, Elle, Lenny Letter, Mogul, Teen Vogue, and many more publications you would instantly recognize. And this is a subset of an even larger team of 20 women of which there is only one more male figure (you see nearly the full team in the picture above).

To say I’m proud to work on this team is an understatement. Together, we’ve accomplished a lot in a short amount of time, and we’ve done so with women leading the way. Yet when I tell people that I’m the only guy on the team, they automatically give me the “how do you do it,” look.

Sometimes, people’s comments are just playful. They know the stereotypes — control freaks, over-aggressive to compensate, using their sexuality— but when I tell them how far they are from the truth, they always seem mystified. Like if it’s impossible for a team of women to accomplish anything meaningful while working with one another.

I don’t know how other all female teams operate, so I don’t have the luxury of comparing. What I can compare it to is my other experiences working with teams that were lead primarily or exclusively by men.

For one, communication is different. There’s just a certain level of respect when addressing each other that never feels patronizing or undermining. More than that, though, we criticize without any tension. Everyone on our team knows that we want the best for each other. So when there are disagreements, no one is stomping off or muttering under their breath. There’s a safe pocket created for ideas to flow without any fear.

I’ve also noticed that no one on this team is afraid to say when they need a break. This is definitely something that the founder of the group encourages. She works harder than anyone, but she’s not afraid to send me a text saying she’s shutting it down for the next couple days. Everyone follows suit, accordingly.

To be honest, there’s nothing else that really stands out. The roof isn’t falling, the world hasn’t ended, and business is doing well. For me, being the only guy has actually been a blessing. As parent to a 14 year old daughter, it gives me specific, real life, examples I can bring up to my daughter to help keep her motivated as she figures herself out.

I think the world needs to get used to this. They need to see more tables with this type of disparity. Young women need to know that not only is this possible, but it’s happening right now. This image needs to become common place and egos need to be put aside to allow that step to be taken.

I’m doing fine. I don’t feel odd in anyway. I certainly don’t feel like an outsider. Yet somehow I feel like if the situation was reversed and there was only one woman sitting at this table, then this would be a different story.