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Is or why is ambition in women seen as a bad thing?

(48 Posts)
StealthPolarBear Sun 01-May-16 21:34:57

I feel as though I need to apologise, explain or downplay the fact I am ambitious. There needa to be a 'reason' to throw myself into the job om doing or go for another, as though I should want to get away with doing as little as possible.
how much of this is in my head? How much is because I'm a woman or a mother? How much depends on where you work?

StealthPolarBear Sun 01-May-16 21:37:35

I feel as though no one gets this (and yet the world is full of people doing harder jobs than mine so presumably people do!) Only dh is willing to listen to me bore him and is supportive.

StealthPolarBear Sun 01-May-16 21:53:27

Bumping before bed

SpoonintheBin Sun 01-May-16 22:00:29

Funny, I always I need to downplay or justify why I am not ambitious. I chose to become a childminder and you should hear the comments other women make about my choice of career. You can't win.

A lot of it is down to how you see yourself, as other people's judgements don't really mean anything. They don't know you. I always admire women with ambition, a good career, focus, but I am also slightly jealous!

Who do you feel is judging you?

Needmorewine Sun 01-May-16 22:01:45

Nothing very useful to add but yes. I'm currently retraining for a new career and plan to work FT when have finished - the general consensus seems to be complete surprise I want to go back FT / assuming I'm only doing if to get maternity pay for baby no.2. So frustrating. Thankfully I have some close friends and a DH who are extremely supportive and understand I'm doing it for "me" if that makes sense ?! Sorry bit of a ramble but I completely get where you're coming from.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

museumum Sun 01-May-16 22:05:05

Not sure what you mean by "ambitious". It can mean anything from doing the best job you can through to being money motivated or power hungry.
I don't really operate in a "cut-throat" industry so there seems no issue with female directors or women wanting to be leaders.
I guess in a more dog-eat-dog business then it's harder to reconcile ambition with the whole "being liked" thing that seems to only apply to women.

I saw a great video online on this. It was facebooks staff training on unconscious bias. It pointed out that people of both sexes have trouble with women who don't behave like they want to be liked.

slightlyglitterbrained Sun 01-May-16 22:06:20

I get it. I think a LOT depends on where you work - some workplaces are clearly rather fucking freaked out by ambitious women.

museumum Sun 01-May-16 22:07:36

This is it

The competence / likability bias and maternal bias bits are very good.

StealthPolarBear Sun 01-May-16 22:11:49

Argh sorry hadn't seen replies.
good question about what do I mean. I work in public sector so not competitive in a financial sense. I suppose what I mean is I believe I have the ability to run operations and make decisions at a higher level and want to do that. I love the content and so work and hobbies overlap a lot. And I take pride in doing a really good job. I know the last two aren't ambitious as such but I'm not prepared to compromise on them iyswim.

slightlyglitterbrained Sun 01-May-16 22:16:12

How often have you got jobs that you needed to "grow into", Stealth? I think this is part of it - I spent so much of my career fighting to get promoted to the level I was already working at already, it was a revelation when I got a job where I wasn't bored from day one but stretched. Yet I see men in that situation all the time.

StealthPolarBear Sun 01-May-16 22:21:40

Actually fairly often I'd say. Although I think at the moment that's my problem.I really love my job, I love the content and the people I work with. Individual projects can still be really interesting and challenging but I'm maybe just ready for something new. But it's a huge risk.

charliethebear Sun 01-May-16 22:24:57

I have experienced this, I feel as if I am supposed to be ambitious to a certain level but not too much, and the greater goal is to end up with money for nothing iyswim.
Women in the place I work who are ambitious are seen as 'hormonal' 'bitchy' etc, and often criticisms revolve around a lack of likability. Men with the same temperament and ambition are seen as strong and confident, and everyone likes them. Thats very generalised but still holds true

StealthPolarBear Mon 02-May-16 07:45:37

Yes the most money for the least work seems to be the impression I get too

mssmithsonian Mon 02-May-16 10:08:48

Lots of women I have encountered seem to feel that they should hide their ambition and their skills in a work environment. Instead of being proud of their accomplishments, they downplay them.
I wonder if the reasons could be to do with not wanting to be criticised, feeling anxious about their position, and it not seeming very 'feminine'. To be confident in a work environment seems to be seen as a stereotypically masculine trait.

I don't agree with this at all. Be proud of your hard work and ambition. Show off your accomplishments. It will make it easier for future generations of young women to do it.

StealthPolarBear Mon 02-May-16 19:37:03

I am proud. But if (for example) I have a busy period at work it is met with a general feeling that my employer is unreasonable expecting anything outside the usual 9-5, that I shouldnt have to do this.
The attitude the dh working weekends is that it's par for the course when you reach a certain level of seniority, necessary etc.

GetAHaircutCarl Mon 02-May-16 19:47:27

When I recently went for an ambitious project, I was met with a mixture of attitudes.

Some were puzzled as to why I'd bother as we don't need the £££.
Others thought I was being arrogant ( I was chancing it, and admitted as much. But don't ask don't get).

A few wrapped up their feelings in faux concern for my DC hmm despite knowing full well, my work is very flexible and where it isn't my DH is super supportive ( and flexible).

cheminotte Mon 02-May-16 19:52:43

I get it Stealth . I think being ambitious to me feels like admitting that I want a career not just a job and I want more to my identity than 'mum' .

VestalVirgin Mon 02-May-16 20:19:18

There needa to be a 'reason' to throw myself into the job om doing or go for another, as though I should want to get away with doing as little as possible.

Well, there should be a reason? Higher position and more satisfying work, or more pay ... just working a lot without any thanks or recognition is what women have been doing for centuries, and should stop doing because it is better for us to get something in return for the hard work.

If you do get something out of it, I see no reason why you shouldn't be ambitious. But of course, I am a feminist.

Can't say I have met many people who didn't like it when women worked a lot for their job in order to get better pay or such. Two of my best friends are putting most of their time into their careers in order to earn more money. I respect that.

On the other hand, I tend to run for the hills when I notice that someone is a sexist arsehole, so that may skew my perceptions on whether people see ambition in women as a bad thing. wink

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 02-May-16 20:29:55

I suppose it depends on your workplace. I'd be surprised if any trainees, newly qualified solicitors of either sex were not ambitious.

Not everyone will become a partner but I'd I'd expect anyone of either sex to work towards associate level within a reasonable period and if they are expecting a salary increase to demonstrate why they deserve it.

slightlyglitterbrained Mon 02-May-16 20:43:50

I find that some strands of feminism/feminists appear to me to be critical of ambition - describing it as a "male" thing, buying into patriarchal structures/strengthening them instead of challenging them. I don't understand this viewpoint properly as I don't understand it - I do know that it deterred me from deeper involvement with women's groups (except for industry focused ones) in my twenties.

StealthPolarBear Mon 02-May-16 20:44:40

Vesta the reason expected I'd that we need more money or my job is at risk I suppose. Being ambitious isn't accepted as a reason in itself.
maybe I'm over thinking.

Botchit Mon 02-May-16 20:46:37

I'm really surprised you feel like this. I think ambition is seen as a positive. I'm a SAHP and feel my perceived lack of ambition is frowned upon. I'm not looking for work but I'm often dragged into conversations of how I could retrain etc.

StealthPolarBear Mon 02-May-16 20:48:13

Yes I said on another thread that it seems as though the pressure comes from both ends. There's obviously a 'perfect spot' of ambition, work, childcare that satisfies the masses and we must not breach it smile

slightlyglitterbrained Mon 02-May-16 20:50:43

It's the classic damned if you do, damned if you don't, isn't it? Sex, food, work, childcare - any others that fit into the "well you're just doing it wrong woman, shame on you!"

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