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Here’s some great news for everyone, whether you’re female, male, or somewhere in between: this may be the first time in history that you can benefit from an increasing number of women in a workforce once dominated by men. Why is this exciting? Because women are starting new businesses in record numbers. The Center for Women’s Business Research reports that women now own more than 10 million companies. So as more women gain skills and experience in fields that haven’t yet been explored, new ideas evolve. More jobs are created. Everyone wins. Diversity in today’s workforce is vital to reshaping businesses in the new economy, and that’s good for everyone.

According to studies compiled by Catalyst, the top think tank for women’s workplace issues, more women are exploring nontraditional careers, but they are still a minority in high-level executive positions and leadership. So here’s your chance, ladies, to even the playing field. Gentlemen, your chances of being hired by a woman will improve as they launch new businesses in nontraditional fields. And the men’s room won’t be so crowded.

Even if giant corporations are struggling and going bankrupt, machines, buildings, transportation net-works, and other infrastructure systems invariably need to be built, maintained, and repaired. Skilled trade jobs, such as welding, carpentry, construction, and electrical work, are still wide open. The work is physical and dirty, with the pay ranging from $10 to $40 or more per hour, which is nothing to sneeze at. Women – and the men rooting for their success – should check out HardHattedWomen.org, a site that offers job listings, training programs, information, and support for women in nontraditional careers or those who want to enter these fields.

Changing times mean expanding opportunities for women and savvy men who capitalize on this trend. You may want to consider jobs with organizations that flourish in economic downturns, such as crisis management companies, universities, career service providers, and law firms that specialize in bankruptcy.

Tough times call for creative measures. No matter what your comfort zone was, branch out, find a mentor, and apply your unique abilities to something you have never considered. Talk to people who took a chance and succeeded. Phyllis Diller, one of the first female comedians to work in a male-dominated field, once said, “Aim high, and you won’t shoot your foot off.”

Candice Reed is the co-author of Thank You for Firing Me! How to Catch the Next Wave of Success After You Lose Your Job. For more articles and ideas, check out thankyouforfiringme.org.

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