Breaking Barriers in Male-Dominated Industries: 13 Success Stories from Women Entrepreneurs

By Greg Grzesiak Greg Grzesiak has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on March 18, 2024

In an inspiring showcase of female empowerment, we’ve gathered stories from thirteen women entrepreneurs who’ve made their mark in traditionally male-dominated fields. From pioneering female leadership in law to innovating women’s health supplements, these founders, CEOs, and specialists share their journeys of breaking barriers and thriving against the odds.

  • Pioneering Female Leadership in Law
  • Innovating Tech with Social Impact
  • Authenticity and Transparency in SEO
  • Revolutionizing the Moving Industry
  • Cultivating Inclusive Gym Culture
  • From AI/ML to Marketing Consultancy
  • Balancing Law Career and Motherhood
  • Championing US Manufacturing and Quality
  • Building Credibility in Finance
  • Questioning Bias to Foster Equity
  • Empowering SEO Through Community
  • Creating Supportive Networks for Women
  • Innovating Women’s Health Supplements

Pioneering Female Leadership in Law

As a female entrepreneur entering the field of family law, it was far from an easy journey. Despite the obstacles, I can proudly share a narrative of breaking barriers in an industry where male dominance has been the historical norm.

Years ago, as a novice female attorney, the difficulty wasn’t just in the work itself, but also in finding someone to show me the ropes. Mentorship seemed a privilege afforded to few, and, regrettably, even fewer when it came to women. I realized early on that if I were to thrive, it would be through my own initiative and relentless effort. Lady Gaga has said, ‘You only need one person to believe in you, and that person is you!’ I fully believe in this and have used this quote to motivate myself throughout my journey.

It was crucial to stay on course, so I committed to a path with full intent to succeed. This steadfast focus and determination led me to establish Blood Law, PLLC. What was once a solitary journey evolved into a collaborative mission with a formidable team of professionals by my side. Each successful case, each satisfied client, and every moment spent educating and empowering others to understand their legal rights were not just achievements but milestones of progress in a collective march toward equality in the industry.

It’s crucial to underline the significance of ‘sticking to it’ as a strategy for success. The legal world demands perseverance and resilience, traits that have been indispensable to my growth. I chose to meet challenges with intelligence, ethics, and a spirit that refused to quit or be overshadowed by gender-based stereotypes.

For those entering male-dominated arenas, my experience stands as testament to the idea that where there isn’t a table for you, you build one and hold your ground with integrity and professionalism.

Anna BloodAnna Blood
Founder and Managing Attorney, Blood Law PLLC

Innovating Tech with Social Impact

As the CEO of CauseLabs, I navigate a tech world where women are under-represented. My journey blends technology with social impact. At CauseLabs, we’re not just about websites; we innovate for inclusivity and positive change. Leading as a woman, I represent a different version of success, proving diversity can drive innovation.

Sheryle GillihanSheryle Gillihan
Co-Owner, CauseLabs

Authenticity and Transparency in SEO

I’m in the SEO (search engine optimization) industry, and it’s honestly been fun to break through as a female, especially on YouTube. Since starting my business, I’ve always valued being authentically myself and as transparent as possible.

Because of those two things combined, I think that just the way I show up and educate on SEO, I stand out in the sea of sameness. I hear all the time from clients, YouTube subscribers, and students that the way I break things down and the high energy I bring to the topic helps them also start to feel excited about SEO (which is usually a topic that people love to avoid, lol).

Also, my approach to SEO is different. Maybe it’s because I feel like I’m in a lane of my own being a female, but I don’t want to have an agency or grow my business like other people. I’m really clear on my boundaries and where my zone of genius is, which makes me confident in my field. Because no one out there does what I do, in the way that I do it. And I think the people that find me and connect with me feel that. Along with the fact that I work with a lot of other female entrepreneurs, so it’s nice for us to support each other in our zones of genius.

Mariah LiszewskiMariah Liszewski
SEO Consultant & Online Business Educator, Mariah Magazine, LLC

Revolutionizing the Moving Industry

It took courage for me to break into the traditionally male-dominated moving industry. At first, many were doubtful, thinking that I, as a woman business owner, would have a hard time penetrating this industry. It took four years of hard work, determination, and learning from those humble beginnings to build a successful local moving company. I broke limits in the moving industry with my fresh ideas and unique perspective, and I also proved that women could lead in this profession. In the end, my efforts helped the company expand nationally.

Launching the first nationwide moving and storage marketplace presented additional challenges as I expanded our operations to the national level. It required not only finding out how to increase operations logistically but also breaking misconceptions about women’s skills and roles in the sector. My companies succeeded because we put customers first, made good use of technology to streamline operations, and never wavered from our commitment to provide outstanding service. It is possible to overcome industrial biases and operational challenges, and this can result in novel outcomes. I learned the importance of never giving up, being open to new ideas, and rethinking the potential in any field through this experience.

Margarita HakobyanMargarita Hakobyan
CEO and Founder of Movers Corp, Movers Corp

Cultivating Inclusive Gym Culture

Starting a gym brought me twofold difficulties at the same time: being a woman in a male-oriented business world and being able to turn around the traditional misogynistic gym culture. My goal was clear: to make fitness inclusive, fun, and fulfilling while erasing the line between body types and gender—all while remaining true to its values, namely inclusivity, empowerment, and acceptance of every individual.

This journey began with a revamping of the gym’s menu and environment. I created a well-needed mix of workouts, which ranged from HIIT to yoga, and that ended up being more of a catch-all solution for the variety of consumers. Alongside increasing the number of programs, my journey and strive were to utterly transform the gym culture itself, forming a welcoming environment where positive feedback was the rule, and community engagement became the basic requirement. It was a change with automatic training of the workers to listen to and respond sensitively to the hospitalized persons’ emotional and practical needs.

Marketing was the key to changing perceptions, demonstrating the richness of our club members, each with their own story, therefore attracting a larger audience. This clever marketing strategy has demolished the former psychological barrier and identified our clubs as the centers of inclusivity. While confronted with people’s doubts and my contradictions, I still received an inner drive and bravery for my purpose. I figured out three things: a person can base themselves on principles that will never let them down, a network of feedback can improve a project a lot, and the true leader is the one who does not just say something but also demonstrates actions.

The success of this initiative does not lie only in counting people improving their lives and feeling better in a place where they are not judged but are supported and encouraged. The transformation of my gyms into inclusive communities is nothing less than a real achievement that contributes to overcoming the boundaries of the fitness industry and changing the perception of success with measurements that are not considered conventional.

This journey has emphasized the power of resilience, ingenuity, and people’s commitment to countering the existing dominant order and making the breakthrough, affirming the fact that visionary leadership is indeed a concept that can address struggle and move barriers along the way.

Vivian YuVivian Yu
Co-Founder, Gym Neam Me

From AI/ML to Marketing Consultancy

I branched out from Business Development at an AI/ML SaaS company to become an independent marketing consultant! I have a very technical background, so I have traditionally worked as the first marketing hire at companies in the small-molecule drug discovery space, oil and gas, renewable energy, compliance consulting, and chemical engineering. I am not an expert in any of these fields, but I possess the ability to learn on the spot, research topics in-depth, and ask questions.

A startup drug discovery company brought me on board as their first marketing hire, and they quickly realized they were lacking a marketing and business development strategy when they didn’t have answers to my questions. I helped lead the team to create new conference materials, create a LinkedIn strategy, update one-page capability statements, refine and redesign pitch decks, and even organize and lead a successful webinar that had a fully thought-out follow-up engagement strategy.

Hannah LightnerHannah Lightner
Strategic Marketing Consultant, Copy Creative

Balancing Law Career and Motherhood

I entered the field of personal injury law over 20 years ago, at a time when even fewer females were present in the industry compared to today. Breaking into this traditionally male-dominated field was indeed a challenge, but it has been an incredibly rewarding journey.

Starting my career as an attorney when I had a young family was a challenge, as I had to balance long work hours with childcare logistics. My kids grew up watching me work hard not just for my clients, but for our family, and have learned the value of dedication, resilience, and hard work. I have thrived in this industry because I don’t back down from a challenge. I face it head-on and figure it out, no matter how difficult it may be in the moment.

Lisa LanierLisa Lanier
President & CEO, Lanier Law Group, P.A.

Championing US Manufacturing and Quality

My company has been manufacturing officially licensed college diploma frames, U.S. Military frames, and corporate awards for more than 30 years. We are a certified woman-owned business and a 12-time Inc. 5000 Award winner—only one of nine female-founded companies in Inc.’s 40-plus-year history to have earned that distinction.

Probably my biggest struggle in this industry was staying stateside when many of my rivals in the U.S. caved into the price pressure and moved their manufacturing overseas. If I wanted to join them, I knew I would have to buy subpar materials, lay off skilled artisans, and sacrifice product quality as a result. I didn’t like those choices. I believe strongly in trying to keep jobs in the U.S. and in treating my employees fairly.

Rather than join the price war, I prefer to outdo the competition with quality USA-made products, creative marketing, and personalized customer service. I don’t see them catching up in those areas anytime soon.

Lucie VovesLucie Voves
CEO & Founder, Church Hill Classics

Building Credibility in Finance

Straight out of college, I entered the world of finance, a traditionally male-dominated industry. Everyone thought I was the ‘assistant.’ I was young, and I was female. I made sure to dress professionally, but that wasn’t enough. I immediately wanted to build credibility.

I started to educate myself. I took every class I could. I read every book I could. I began taking licensing exams. I started pursuing all the credentials that the ‘higher-ups’ had. I knew I needed letters after my name so that clients and coworkers would know I was knowledgeable and passionate.

Finding a female mentor was important as well. I immediately knew I wanted to become a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. I have now been in the industry for just shy of 17 years, and I’ve seen a significant shift in finance, with women increasingly taking on more prominent roles and becoming more involved in various aspects of Wealth Management. Women bring a lot to the table. We tend to excel in areas such as communication, empathy, and relationship-building, all of which are essential in the financial field.

The CFP Board established The Women’s Initiative to address the issue of women’s underrepresentation in the financial planner workforce. Women are unstoppable; barriers are made to be broken.

My advice to young females interested in Financial Planning: start with the CFP Board. CFP® professionals take a holistic, personalized approach to bring all the pieces of your financial life together. As part of the CFP® certification, CFP® professionals also have made a commitment to the CFP Board to act as a fiduciary when providing financial advice to a client. This means they have agreed to put your best interests first, so they can provide you confidence today and a secure tomorrow.

Melissa PavoneMelissa Pavone
Director – Investments Cfp, Cdfa, Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.

Questioning Bias to Foster Equity

With over 15 years of experience as a behavior change specialist, I’ve waded through the trenches of some of the toughest, most male-dominated industries out there—from banking to utilities, mining, oil and gas, insurance, management consulting, and higher education. What I learned is that a direct communication style with clever questions cuts through quickly to deliver results.

When roadblocked or faced with unconscious and conscious bias from male counterparts, I’d often ask, ‘Would you want your daughters to experience what I’m experiencing right now?’ Or, ‘What can you contribute to helping create a more equitable environment for all team members right now?’ Or perhaps more generally, ‘Have we considered all perspectives, beyond our personal experiences, to ensure fairness and inclusivity?’ It respectfully changed the conversations and outcomes very quickly.

Once I dared to ask the questions, it didn’t take me as long to get accepted into the teams, especially in the field, and I was able to add value much sooner.

Sinja HallamSinja Hallam
Executive & Business Coach, Sinja Hallam – The Power to Transform

Empowering SEO Through Community

I had never considered becoming an SEO professional, simply because of how many confident male voices already dominated the industry. But as a new entrepreneur, it was the lackluster educational content these voices were creating that led me to pursue it.

Every time I tried to learn, I was instead promised a ‘hack’ or a ‘trick,’ leaving me confused with jargon that seemed meant to impress but only went over my head. The ‘they’re wrong’ and ‘forget that’ rhetoric that seemed present in every video felt discouraging.

Fortunately, I discovered a women-led SEO community—one focused on empowerment, not gatekeeping; collaboration instead of competition; and clear explanations in place of jargon. This experience inspired me to pursue SEO as a career. It turned discouraging into ‘What, like it’s hard? If boys can do it, so can I.’

When I started speaking with potential clients about SEO, I was hesitant to bring up this experience (What if I was dramatizing it? What if it really wasn’t that bad?). But each time it inevitably came up, almost every single client—of all genders—had experienced something similar, including being ignored by the professional they paid to work for them or being charged more simply because they didn’t understand.

It was because of this that I was actually able to land a dream client. Initially hesitant about compromising their ethical and sustainable values for the sake of SEO, I explained to them how that isn’t necessary to succeed at SEO. It’s not about lying or trying to trick the system. Upon working together, we easily established a trusting and mutually respectful relationship.

Experiences like this tell me I’m thriving. They fuel my desire to further help female and non-binary business owners and empower others in the industry.

Lauren PlugLauren Plug
Copywriter, SEO Specialist, Copy by LP

Creating Supportive Networks for Women

Navigating a male-dominated industry can sometimes feel like an uphill battle, but finding solace in my female coworkers has made all the difference. We’ve formed a tight-knit community where we share experiences, offer advice, and uplift each other.

Through our collective support, we’ve built a network of empowerment that not only helps us individually but also contributes to creating a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture for women in our industry. Our solidarity serves as a beacon of inspiration for other women facing similar challenges, showing them that they’re not alone and that together, we can break down barriers and thrive.

Diamond PriceDiamond Price
Creative & SEO Specialist

Innovating Women’s Health Supplements

I have entered a male-dominated industry, as it is a supplement and fitness industry, and some of the most popular products we sell are tailored towards men. So, we have come up with an innovative nutritional supplement line tailored to women’s specific needs. Leveraging my expertise and unique perspective, we were able to carve out a niche in the market, challenging industry norms and empowering women to prioritize their health and wellness.

Madison TMadison T
Ecommerce Manager, My Supplement Store

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By Greg Grzesiak Greg Grzesiak has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Greg Grzesiak is an Entrepreneur-In-Residence and Columnist at Grit Daily. As CEO of Grzesiak Growth LLC, Greg dedicates his time to helping CEOs influencers and entrepreneurs make the appearances that will grow their following in their reach globally. Over the years he has built strong partnerships with high profile educators and influencers in Youtube and traditional finance space. Greg is a University of Florida graduate with years of experience in marketing and journalism.

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