Ambition Is Not A Simple Thing - Tim McClimon of American Express Interviews The New York Women’s Foundation’s Ana Oliveira
Contributed by Timothy J. McClimon, American Express
On March 8th, individuals around the world – of all genders – will come together to celebrate International Women’s Day. Since the first gathering, held over a century ago, leaders have made great progress in driving gender equality. But, we still have work to do to continue advocating for women’s advancement around the world.
Ahead of the day, The New York Women’s Foundation and American Express partnered together to commission external research, Ambitious Insights, which looks at women’s relationships with ambition, globally. It found what many women already feel - ambition is not a simple thing. Strikingly, the majority of respondents consider themselves to be ambitious, however only three-in-ten (31 percent) women overall say they are proud to call themselves “ambitious” publicly.
I sat down with Ana Oliveira, president of The New York Women’s Foundation, to shed light on the findings and share her perspective on what it means to be an ambitious woman.
“For many of the respondents, their hesitation to describe themselves this way stems from very real barriers they have in reaching their goals, and certainly not from a lack of desire or drive to achieve,” said Oliveira, noting that the study found that rather than be called ambitious, most women prefer to be described as “motivated” or “confident,” with “likeability” in the workplace for women often viewed more positively than “assertiveness” or “competitiveness.”
Aside from the stigma associated with ambition, according to the study, confidence plays a key role in women’s actions in the workplace. Half of the respondents say they are confident in having the skills and qualifications to effectively perform their job. But, many report that they do not feel comfortable sharing their opinions or seeking out leadership opportunities.
When considering ambition and confidence, Oliveira believes women can and do have both confidence and ambition. But to her, the real question is, “How can we as leaders provide women with the space and opportunity to live self-determined, secure and successful lives?...