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Women in FM: Remain Courageous on Path to Success

Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself, set boundaries, or ask for help. Watch this popular NFMT Baltimore session now

The Women in FM panel at NFMT Baltimore is an interactive discussion with leading women in the industry and audience members. The discussion centers around challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated industry, how to advocate for yourself, and achieve work-life balance and self-care, among other topics.

This year's panel includes:

- Paula Spiese, principal, Sustainable Workplace Solutions

- Karen Jones, VP, Learning & Partner Solutions, NextUp

- Jennifer Treter, principal, Hendrick, Inc.

Being a woman in facility management can often be challenging. There may be times when you are the only woman in the room, which can lead to others challenging your expertise. These experiences can be intimidating and alienating. However, having strong role models that instill confidence, as well as the support of a community, can provide resilience to such situations.

Personality may be another reason for being an "only" in a demographic. For example, being the only introvert in a room can lead to a struggle to assert oneself in conversations. It's a misconception that introverts are shy. Rather they prefer thoughtful communication in business settings.

In cases like these, people need to acknowledge that others have diverse backgrounds and experience. We need to practice tolerance of others. Inclusive environments lead to individuals feeling empowered to contribute optimally.

Work-life balance, or rather, work-life integration, can also be a challenge for women in facility management. As a mother, it can be tough to juggle various responsibilities inside and outside of professional life. Remaining authentic to who you are, plus practicing self-care, can help women move through these struggles. In the end, being present for loved ones ultimately matters most.

While many industries allow for remote and hybrid work schedules, this can often be difficult in facility management. However, being flexible with scheduling and also creating wellness spaces in the workplace can make it easier to achieve work-life balance and practice self-care.

Facility management and the role of professionals in the industry is ever-evolving, especially in this post-pandemic world. It's critical that facility managers understand and address the diverse needs of occupants and employees in the shaping of future workspaces. This is often a strength of women, as they inherently possess leadership capabilities, regardless of formal titles.

In order to succeed in this male-dominated industry, women need to remain courageous — find courage to embrace change, set boundaries, ask for help and advocate for oneself. Believing in oneself and showing up can lead to success, even in daunting situations.

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