So the question for the week – when did ambition become a 4-letter word when it came to women having it? I had drinks on Friday with an incredibly impressive group of women; seriously talented women who have accomplished a great deal. We had a new person join our group, and when she was asking the women what they did and where they wanted to go, their descriptions were understated to the point of being self-deprecating. The new woman, who joined us devoted her career to helping women advance in various professional fields, had some interesting insight on this dynamic. As readers of my blog know, the obstacles to women’s success in the workplace are due to both internal and external factors – the good news is that as with any thorny problem, when the issue is brought to light, we have the resources to start addressing the problem rather than thinking this was something that was unique to us!
During the conversation, our new friend suggested a must read book that I highly recommend – Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women’s Changing Lives by Anna Fels. An excerpt from the book’s preface: “Despite the huge advances women have made in recent decades, their ambitions are still undermined in subtle ways. Parents, teachers, bosses, and institutions all give less encouragement to women than men, and women still grow up believing that they must defer to men in order be seen as feminine. If their ambition does survive into adulthood, too often those ambitions must be downsized or abandoned to accommodate “wifely” duties of household chores and child care. As a result, women–unlike men–continually have to re-shape their goals and expectations.”
The book explores the fact that society consistently discourages women from seeking recognition for their achievements. But I say that society also used to dictate that women wore bustles and were not allowed to own property not so very long ago. So while we remove “bossy” from our vocabulary, I think we ought to replace it with ambition- whatever your unique ambitions are; they are something to be celebrated. So let’s expand the sentence from last week “That girl’s not bossy. She has executive leadership skills and laudable ambitions.”
We have just some amazing events coming up over the next few months. Speaking of supporting girls – please take a moment to buy your ticket to our May Panel event in Dallas. We have a fabulous panel of allocators from some of the biggest pensions in the country and you will not want to miss what they have to say about the markets. The event supports the college dreams of under-served girls across the state, and it is a chance to meet your fellow TXWSW members from across the state! See you all soon.