When it comes to women and ambition for their career many want to keep a low profile. If a woman says she wants to double her salary or that she wants her boss’s job many people are sure to raise eyebrows. Society’s reaction has traditionally been that a woman should be happy with what she’s got or she will be labeled pushy or greedy.
Consequently many women have internalized that having big ambitions is a negative thing.
Will it make me less attractive? (Who would like to date a determined woman!)
What if I fail?
And who am I to think I could do great things anyway!
Staying “small” feels somehow safer. Being ambitious means you will eventually ruffle someone’s feathers and that’s what we women would like to avoid as much as possible as we are often people pleasers. Or we think, ah, my life is “ok”. Why complain? Thinking that wanting something more or different would mean that we don’t appreciate what we have. All this is learned behaviour that is reinforced by organisational and societal stereotypes.
So do women lack career ambition?
Quite the contrary! Infact, research shows that women are as ambitious as men at the start of their career.
“Ambition is not a fixed trait; it is an attribute that can be nurtured or damaged over time through the daily interactions and opportunities employees experience at work.” says Matt Krentz at Boston Consulting Group.
We have learned from years of running women’s co-development groups that most women are afraid to voice their ambitions out loud. They feel safer hiding their ideas than sharing them with the world. And it shouldn’t be like that.
“I can remember whispering my dream to a fellow DrivenWoman member in a meeting… and that launched me into actually pursuing my ambition!”
“I didn’t know how to be ambitious. I had never thought about it. But when I explored what I wanted in my life I realized that I was very ambitious.”
“It felt super scary at first. I had never told anyone about my career goals.”
What are the consequences for women hiding their career ambition?
Companies are losing out big time if they are unable to encourage women to recognise and act on their ambition. It has a direct impact on women’s willingness to put themselves forward for promotions. The effects on corporate culture, diversity and inclusion are far reaching unless there will be more women in leadership positions.
A staggering 75% of women say they don’t have the confidence to ask for senior positions at work.
According to L’Oreal, 88% of women have career ambitions but 77% of women feel those goals are a taboo. DrivenWoman’s co-development groups are one building block in their program aimed at helping women break those mental barriers.
DrivenWoman is a women’s empowerment company. We provide experiential co-development groups to support women with their goals and aspirations. We work with organisations who are committed to bringing out the best of their female talent.