Thursday, June 27, 2013

Evidently, We are Less "Ambitious..."

Different studies provide evidence that young women are less ambitious than our male counterparts.  I am incredibly grateful that researchers are prioritizing young women as a demographic to study.  They recognize our power as key players to breaking the glass ceiling.  However, as a young woman, I wonder what are we to make of these studies?  Do we allow them to confirm our alleged complacency, or do we use them as motivation to change the statistics?

Less young women want to rise to the top of large organizations. According to a recent study by the Zeno group, only 15 percent of women between ages 21 and 33 would want to be the top leader of a large or prominent organization.  A major finding in the survey was that millennial women feel women leaders have to make more sacrifices than their male counterparts.  Moreover, millennial women do not think these sacrifices are worth it.

Similarly, less young women want to run for political office.  Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox recently released a study Girls Just Not Wanna Run- The Gender Gap in Young Americans' Political Ambition.  In their nationwide survey of college students, they found that "young women are less likely than young men ever to have considered running
for office, to express interest in a candidacy at some point in the future, or to consider elective office a desirable profession."  Sadly, they also discovered that the gender gap in ambition already exists by the time women and men enter their first careers.

Based on my extremely biased sample of highly motivated girlfriends, I have to disagree with the data.  However, for millennial women at large multiple studies seem to prove otherwise.  Perhaps, exacerbated by the economic crisis, much of this comes from the changing economic reality.  People no longer stay with one company for the majority of their life, but constantly change careers.  Additionally, millennial women saw how unhappy many of our parents were from the single lifetime career, and we don't want that. Similarly, many of us may see how dirty politics is and we feel we can make a better impact through nonprofit careers.

It's a complicated reality for young women.  I know a successful young, female attorney who chose to work at a corporate firm so she can pay off her student loans to eventually be a stay at home mom when she plans to have children soon.  Who am I to judge her choice? Isn't that amazing that she will have been able to work hard to have the freedom to enjoy motherhood and be a "successful" mom! We all have different definitions of what success and happiness mean to us.  I believe the ultimate success of feminism will be when all women are free and able to pursue their own path to happiness.

Read below to learn how other women reacted to these studies.  How does the research make you feel?  Does it motivate you to keep climbing the career ladder or run for office?  Does it make you angry that we are not succeeding based on society's definition of success? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Young Women Don't Think They Want to Run
By Kate Farrar and Jessica Grounds

Research Says: Millennial Women Burn Out Early
By April Sweazy

Millennial Women Supposedly Don't Care About Success, Won't Lean In
By Erin Gloria Ryan

Millennial Women Don't Want to Be CEOs, And That's Okay

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