How women can make it in a man's world

TAFE NSW offers a range of services and courses designed to meet the needs of women looking to further their careers

As more and more women succeed in traditionally male-dominated jobs, they're in a great position to offer advice to the next generation of the sisterhood. But if you expect tough talk on how to match it with the men, you might be surprised.

Tina Fey is probably the best-known and best-paid female comedian in the world. The driving force behind 30 Rock and star of films such as Date Night, Fey recently made an appearance on Inside the Actor's Studio and was asked to give advice for women trying to make it in the boys' club of TV entertainment.

"Always wear a bra," was her first gem. "Even if you don't feel you need it, just have it." She also advised not to eat diet food in front of other people because "it weakens you", before dispelling the conventional wisdom that women shouldn't cry in the workplace. "I find that, if it's genuine, if something is so frustrating that you cry, that actually often scares people."

It seems to be a common theme, this crying. Sheryl Sandberg – chief operating officer of Facebook, author of Lean In, and the 10th most powerful woman in the world – recently told a US magazine: "I've cried at work. I've told people I've cried at work… I talk about my hopes and fears and ask people about theirs. I try to be myself – honest about my strengths and weaknesses – and I encourage others to do the same. It is all professional and it is all personal, all at the very same time."

And while both Fey and Sandberg have faced their fair share of challenges, there are few occupations as demanding as politics, something Australia's first female Prime Minister knows well. Even her harshest critics have to concede that Julia Gillard is one tough operator. Her advice for other women in positions of leadership? "Always remember what's important about being there. It's very important to have a strong sense of yourself. Don't be buffeted by other people's opinions." Wise words.

When Margaret Thatcher became the British Prime Minister in 1979, much was made of a woman being in such a position of power. Three decades on, having a female leader of a company or country isn't such an alien concept and, what's more, it's no longer the case that they have to replicate male management styles to get to or stay at the top.

TAFE NSW offers a range of services and courses designed to meet the needs of women looking to further their careers.