Posted by: jessicasinger4 | March 14, 2013

Women and Ambition

Today in class we discussed Wilson’s chapter on ambition. A variety of things stuck out to me when reading this specific chapter. Although I didn’t want to agree with Wilson at times, for the most part, the facts were true, and can be seen in society today. “For men, they seem to manage their ambition, while women seem to mask theirs.” This specific quote stuck out to me. Even though I don’t want to agree with Wilson’s statement because I am a woman, I do. This is seen quite frequently in politics. In politics, men just have to manage their drive for their work so they can keep their hierarchy, while women have to stay more behind the scenes when it comes to their passion for their work, otherwise they will be publically scrutinized. It seems that once women seem to find their ambition and try to take the next step forward in their career the press/public make sure she regrets her decision. When Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House, Congress said they would be better off working WITHOUT her. They said that her “sin” was raising money for her colleagues, which is in fact her job as a party leader. Its crazy to think that just because women are following their dreams and are successful at it, they are always put down somehow.  I honestly believe that some men are threatened by other women’s ambition to be successful because they are afraid that they are going to surpass them in the work force. 

It’s unfortunate that women feel the need to spin their ambition down, in fear of being seen as unladylike. At the end of class today we read an article that went against the idea about how women were not ambitious, and it discussed how the root of the problem is in fact women’s ambition. Women are afraid that their ambition will get in the way of them being successful as leaders, and will not work in their favor. I disagree with this statement. In my opinion, I value women who are outspoken and know what they want and aren’t afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone to make a change. Too many women these days are timid and care too much about what others think about them (especially men), that they aren’t willing to follow their dreams and ambitions. I feel like we have men to blame, because sometimes they can be seen as the “mean girls” and can pass too much judgement on women, who don’t deserve that. Women take things too much to heart, and when a man scrutinizes them, some feel as if they can’t follow their ambitions.


  1. I agree with a lot of this. I think that one of the problems that leaders have with ambition is that men are confident, sometimes overly, and are willing to showcase their talents which usually gets them higher up the ladder. Women, like Wilson said, mask their ambition because they don’t want to be seen as the girl who knows it all, they care too much what others think. Its kinda silly how men get rewarded for being cocky and women get put down, mostly by the media, if they are even the slightest bit forward and outspoken. I think that women may mask their ambition simply because thats how society has taught them. After watching Miss Representation, we got the message about how the media influences how society views women. If we can change society to believe that a woman being confident and outspoken is a positive thing, then the problem with ambition could be solved. But yet again, how long will that take?

  2. I personally think while women do tend to mask their ambitous tendencies to progress in their career’s they should instead do the opposite. And not just a couple women but all of them. Everyone who wants to succeed especially politically needs to show their desire to do so not hide it. If you consider how males are and that they dominate the political sphere one should then get the implication that for once we should follow our male counterpart’s footsteps and be ambitious. If every women shows this quality it will no longer be an abnormality and will instead become the norm and will no longer be discredited. Much like showing yourself to paparazzi if you hide from them they will constantly seek you out, but if you show yourself all the time they will lose interest and move on.

    While I agree men do put women down too often. I don’t think they are entirely to blame for women not being successful. At some point we have to turn around and say, alright every women in the world who did not succeed did not do so because a man put her down? This is highly doubtful. At least half of these women let themselves be put down enough to give up. And no one but yourself can make you do this. I think women just need to toughen up and say I don’t care how many times you knock me down I wont stop until I get everything I want. When this happens, no matter how many male critics there are it wont matter.

  3. I have to disagree with your point about blaming men for women not being ambitious. Although I agree that sometimes men do put women down, I don’t think that is the only reason that women aren’t showing their ambitions. Yes, men are critical of women, but women are also equally as critical of other women. I think that blaming men for the “lack of ambition” that seems to be seen in women is just perpetuating the problem. Saying that men are the reason women are afraid to try moving up the corporate ladder is just an excuse that will cause even more women to give up trying. They will feel that men will only push them down even more, when in actuality, they could just as easily be pushed down by the judgements that other women will pass onto them. Either way, men and women alike need to support women in the workplace.

  4. I would agree that women mask their ambition, but it even extends into other parts of our lives. For example, I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve downplayed my passion for something, or laughed it off as a quirk, rather than owning up to my individuality in what I enjoy. Similarly, when women speak passionately about something, we often as a group laugh it off and pretend like it’s just a phase or a flaw. Why can’t we as women speak passionately about something without seeming too emotional or too driven? I think that this goes back to the “mean girls” concept that you brought up. No matter what we say, someone is always going to disagree with us based on their views or upbringing. I think a big problem for women is that we value our social status and public image so much (not in a superficial way, but in the sense that our public image is a manifestation of our personality) that when just one person speaks negatively about us, we often are ready to quit or step back. In my experience, when something like this happens to men, they are quick to defend themselves and work harder to overcome these negative responses. Women, on the other hand, often shut down or stop whatever they were doing because they feel as though they have offended people by being themselves. While this is obviously an issue with self-confidence, sometimes it seems as though the level of criticism that the world is asking women to put up with is beyond any level of self-confidence we can achieve.

  5. Reading our assigned reading as well as your blog post got me to thinking about whether men really do have the impact or if women do. I truly believe that women have more of an impact on other women than men do. Even though men definitely suppress and feel threatened by other women who are powerful, women seem to be more affected by women who tear them down or comment on the way they look or act. It is concerning to see that women write pieces about other women who are not subscribing to typical feminine values as well as underlining when they are too feminine. I believe that this critical attitude contributes to women masking their ambition. If they seem too eager, that may induce other women to pursue them.

  6. That particular reading really stuck out to me because it made me mad. Like you, I didn’t want to agree with what Wilson was saying, but it seemed to really be true once I thought about it. I like to think I am very ambitious and have strong ambitions. It is so frustrating to read about the responses to Nancy Pelosi because it does seem like many of that criticism is directed at her because her ambitions are so strong and it made me wonder if that was threatening to those around her, both men and women. A question popped into my head while reading your post: while some women might not be less ambitious, are they more likely to change their ambitions in order to be more successful? It seems like some ambitions of women are more accepted than others. So I’m sure that there are many women in all different fields who may not necessarily be less ambitious, but have had to shift their ambitions some and then pursue those new ambitions to the fullest. However I don’t think that should happen and that women should be allowed to pursue their true ambitions as far as they desire without being hindered by any perceptions related to their gender.

  7. This left an impression on me as well. I was horrified when I saw that Pelosi was being criticized for such an achievement. Although everyone (no matter their gender) is criticized it seems as though she was being criticized to an extreme. it was interesting to see that the people doing to the criticizing were men. It made me wonder if the men were criticizing her so harshly because they were intimidated of her power and feared men were going to be triumphed by women in the political field.

  8. I completely agree with the last statement of the posters first paragraph, men are intimidated by women’s ambition. This is the topic that I discussed with my partner in class, where I believe that men, because they are still unfamiliar with women leaders, are also unfamiliar with the women’s potential for ambition. Because women are still seen as submissive to fulfill their roles at home and have little ambition outside of being a good mother, to see them be ambitions of anything outside of their “motherly” role seems unnatural. Men are used to competing with other men and sharing their ambitions in order to reach the top, however, when a woman joins them, it then causes them to be uncertain how they feel about a women coming in seeking power or a higher goal. Likewise, women are so used to fighting women that they are unsure of how to show their ambition not as “power hungry” or “catty” because they are now competing against men. I believe that ambition, regardless of the leader’s gender, should always be focused around benefiting the organization or cause. When a leader’s motivation and drive is for personal ambitions, followers and outsides tend to react negatively; however, if this energy were put toward the progress of the collectiveness, I believe it would be received more positively.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: