In a world where gender stereotypes continued to be the norm, there are many women who have defied societal constraints and opened ways for themselves in male-dominated industries. These role models have broken down barriers, defied stereotypes and established that success does not require being born a woman. We look into the lives of several great women who made outstanding achievements in male-dominated professions and opened a path for future generations to follow.

Further insights from GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council) 2022  , Prospective Students survey revealed a diverse range of industry preferences among both male and female respondents upon graduation. Notably, male respondents demonstrated a higher inclination towards sectors such as consulting, finance, technology, and manufacturing.

In contrast, female respondents were more predisposed towards career paths in marketing, communications, advertising, and the non-profit sector compared to their male counterparts. These findings underscore the varying career aspirations and preferences observed among prospective business school students, providing valuable insights into the evolving landscape of professional pursuits within the academic community.

Here Are  the Successful  women who are defying conventional norms and excelling in industries traditionally dominated by men.

NameProfessionIndustryChallenges & Achievements
Mariza TsakalerouAssistant Professor of Engineering and ManagementEngineering– Over two decades of engineering experience. – Openly discusses difficulties faced by women in the engineering profession. – Advocates for gender balance in a traditionally male-dominated field.
Nicole HoffmannChief Executive Officer, Sentryc GmbHOnline Brand Protection– Successful entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry. – Attributes success to determination, intellect, and courage. 
Mariana CarvalhoTechnology Commercialisation Manager, NesteRenewable Energy– Focuses on expanding knowledge in emerging technologies. – Acknowledges workplace discrimination and advocates for women’s active participation. – Highlights the benefits of resilience in male-dominated sectors.
Katharina KlopferIndustrial Scaffolding Consultant, PERIIndustrial Scaffolding– Views her career without gender bias, fostering an open mind. – Believes her presence positively influences teams by bringing a unique “female spirit.”
Irina KrushChess GrandmasterChess– Discusses challenges in chess involving stereotypically masculine traits. – Highlights the absence of a female world chess champion.
Danica PatrickRace Car DriverMotorsports– First woman in history to win an Indy car show. – Achieved remarkable placements in prestigious motorsport competitions.
Falguni NayarFounder, NykaaEntrepreneurship– Founded Nykaa at the age of 50, transforming it into a unicorn venture. – Demonstrates leadership and notable contributions in the business world.
Priya PaulChairperson, Park HotelsHospitality– Respected female entrepreneur in India. – Acting General Manager at The Park, New Delhi, showcasing leadership in a competitive industry.

Mariza Tsakalerou

Mariza Tsakalerou is Assistant Professor of Engineering and Management at Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan. As an engineer for more than twenty years, she openly discusses the difficulties that women encounter in this profession.

When considering her path, Mariza highlights the perpetual problem of stereotyping and judgments regarding women in engineering. She argues that while they may have equal capabilities and knowledge in technical areas, women are often not considered for difficult projects within the engineering field. Mariza clearly demonstrates her dedication to gender imbalance by selecting a career in an occupation that is not commonly identified with women.

In 2003, while pursuing studies for a Masters degree in Engineering and later acquiring Ph.D., Mariza got an appointment as Professor of Engineering at Nazarbayev university in 2015. Her desire to take up the field of engineering was borne out of love for real-world challenges, problem solving and logical reasoning. Moreover, she was motivated by the need to break gender barriers and overcome males as a dominant force in this career.

Although Mariza recognizes the challenges faced in this sector – she describes engineering as remaining very much an “old boys’ club” , while conceding that women and men have generally equivalent skills,

Navigating these challenges Mariza advocates for collective effort to voice out oneself and the rest of women. She emphasizes the importance of supporting equal opportunities and equal treatment to build a more inclusive, equitable workplace. Mariza Tsakalerou’s observations do not only reveal the truth of women engineers but also inspire to initiate positive transformations within this field.

Nicole Hoffmann

Nicole Hoffmann is the Chief Executive Officer and co- founder of Sentryc GmbH a company that develops technologies in online brand protection as well as fights against product piracy. Nicole is an inspiring entrepreneur and CEO whose journey distinguishes her from the rest, more so in a male-dominated industry as she stands to be among great women.

Nicole considers her success mainly due to determination, intellect and courage that never disappeared from the face. She states the need of persuading people to embrace her vision and see opportunities she foresees as innovative. In the words of Nicole, entrepreneurship calls for fortitude and even shrewdness-traits that she feels have defined her own career path.

Nicole’s educational background in the International Business Administration program at Frankfurt School of Finance and Management has played a key role on her entrepreneurial journey. She describes herself as “basically an entrepreneur” but recognizes the importance of training and acquiring the right tools, much which she gained while being at Frankfurt School’ . On the other hand, she stresses that becoming a good leader is an evolving process and there’s always more work to be done in adapting oneself constantly to new circumstances, cultures, people.

Nicole makes insightful observations regarding a unique problem that women face in her industry – the feeling of guilt or embarrassment for errors. She brings up the pressures that women often place on themselves to be better than their male counterparts.

When asked to give advice women her age, Nicole highlights the value of standing on their own feet. She emphasizes that some priceless lessons are not taught in a classroom or conventional work environment but learned through life’s personal experiences and taking on challenges.

Mariana Carvalho

She is Technology Commercialisation Manager at Neste, a major renewable energy company in the world. Mariana emphasizes how to make the most of that first opportunity, despite initial difficulties in career journey. She was a professional engineer but realized that she needed to acquire skills outside the norm of engineering, when undertaking roles in industry.

In her adventure for development, Mariana concentrated on broadening his knowledge in emerging technologies and innovations within the industry where divergent thinking is appreciated. She admits that they have the luxury of breaking established patterns but more importantly encourages actively trying to shift these norms rather than hoping for universal success. At present, Mariana concentrates on expanding her knowledge concerning ongoing studies at Aalto University Executive Education in Finland.

Mariana acknowledges workplace discrimination despite the fact that she excels in her technology-focused job. She points to a frequent phenomenon of being interrupted when speaking, as she fears that women might experience problems in achieving “air time” necessary for the qualified expression of their thoughts. Mariana highlights the necessity to not keep silent and advises ways on how one can regain their point, but do it respectfully so that the message gets through as intended.

Not only does Mariana highlight the benefits of securing broad ranges of skills and demonstrating them to prospective employers but also emphasizes resilience in sectors occupied by men. She defines persistence as an important skill that you must possess even when it seems unlikely outcomes will work in your favour. Mariana recognizes that there are ups and down along the way, which is why it makes perfect sense to learn from experiences and build resilience.

Mariana argues that by having more women join the male-dominated sectors, there can be a shift in these industries for good. She considers the acceleration to be directly proportional to inclusivity and diversity, promoting increased inclusion for driving progress in those areas.

Katharina Klopfer: Industrial Scaffolding Consultant at PERI

As she embarked on her career,she did not concentrate on the male-dominated nature of the industry. She recalls, “Looking back now, I believe it was helpful for me that I did not see my early years through the prism of gender; instead with an open mind and a curiosity about everything new.”

Katharina, a graduate of the University of Mannheim Business School in Germany with BSc degree in business administration considers it as her benefit that she is a woman working within male-dominated industry.  She holds that her presence has had a positive effect on the various teams she helped to develop, through bringing something special and worthwhile – “female spirit”.

Irina Krush (Chess Grandmaster)

Unlike many competitive arenas, chess presents an opportunity for women to compete fairly with men. However, thus far there is no realization of a female world chess champion. In particular, it is worth noting that only Judit Polgar was able to break into the Top 10 of world chess ratings. In a recent interview with Big Think, Irina Krush- the youngest U.S Women’s Champion at the age of 14 , shared knowledge and said that chess is seen as an activity involving some stereotypically masculine traits which she believes do not come naturally to most women.

Danica Patrick

2008 Indy Japan 30O to hit a historical achievement through Danica Patrick, an esteemed race car driver became the first woman ever in history to win an Indy car show. She has also achieved remarkable feats such as finishing third in the 2009 Indy and standing as a woman who managed highest placements since the inauguration of this spectacular event. Patrick belongs to an extraordinary community of just seven women who managed to qualify for this prestigious race, one of the three most respected competitions in the world concerning motorsports.

Falguni Nayar : Founder of Nykaa 

Among the Indian women entrepreneurs, there is also one person whom you simply cannot turn your back on – Falguni Nayar. Ms. Nayar, who has grown up watching her father struggle to run a small business, decided at the age of 50 years that she would leave the post of Managing Director in Kotak Mahindra Capital and go ahead with creating an enterprise from scratch – which eventually transformed into becoming a unicorn venture.

The Spark of Inspiration

Ms. Nayar, an IIM Ahmedabad alumni for close to two decades, endeavored her skills in different positions such as venture investing and merchant banking in the Kotak Mahindra Group RTWM /KMA . After managing the group’s international operations in the USA and UK, she stepped down to lead the institutional equity division. 2005 saw her becoming the Managing Director of Kotak Mahindra Capital as a result of her notable contributions and leadership abilities.

Priya Paul : Chairperson of Park Hotels

One of the most respected female entrepreneurs in India is Priya Paul, known as an excellent Chairperson for Park Hotels.iserk She is professionally associated with the famous Apeejay Surrendra Group, one of India’s prestigious business families.

Priya Paul obtained a degree in Economics from Wellesley College, United States, and entered the family business as part of the marketing division at Park Hotels. Under the guidance of her father, Surrendra Paul who is also the Chairperson; she demonstrated admirable determination and insight. Only a couple of years ago, Priya managed to be exposed as an Acting General Manager at The Park New Delhi exhibiting his outstanding leadership and management abilities.


Through their extraordinary accomplishments, these women do not only stand against established norms but also motivate future generations to follow the path they see fit no matter what society may demand. An examination of their stories highlights the significance of inclusiveness, resilience and persistence in one’s vision to surmount gender-based adversities within a professional environment.