Women's Lives | Guilt & Self Sacrifice Balanced With Ambition

Artist Grete Stern makes photomontage depictions of women’s dreams.RedTracker| Writing for Bloomberg, Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Melinda Marshall ask Does Female Ambition Require Sacrifice?

Punting off Natalie Portman’s character in Oscar-nominated movie ‘Black Swan’, the authors remind us that her character is stereotypical, expressing a viewpoint that women struggle with in the development of their careers.

Backed up by religious teachings, socialization and political Conservativism — this being our interpretation — characters like Portman’s Nina portray the view that “ambition will cost a woman all her meaningful relationships; it will push her to the breaking point; it will twist her priorities, pervert her desires, and betray her dreams.”

Guilt-Ridden Ambition

Hewlett and Marshall ask why women take their foot off the accelerator, deferring their dreams. We all know the answer: women are confronted with choices that men don’t have to make. This trend could become worse as Conservatives in Congress make controlling women’s reproductive capacity even more difficult. And let’s not forget the Vatican still insisting that women not use any contraception.

We are, after all, incubators first and foremost. Phyllis Schlafly’s new book will aggressively portray the ambitious woman a traitor to American life.

No Parental Leave Policy

Rest assured that Schlafly will ignore the unbelievable reality that America is one of three countries in the world with no family leave policy.We stand with Swaziland and Papua, New Guinea but insist that America puts family first.

Research from the Center for Work-Life Policy confirms that 41% of women who actually arrive in the corner office come without an intimate partner. 40% arrive without children.

Stop. Look. Listen. There are progressive politicians out there and corporations, too, who are stepping up to the plate for women.

Republicans may want to put women back in the kitchen where she belongs, but some corporations are generally worried about the lack of qualified American candidates for key positions in business. Not only do 21st century businesses require skills more likely to be found among women, but females are better educated.

Women-Friendly Companies

Bloomberg cites several organizations who have taken on the initiative to help women advance, in spite of America’s patriarchal culture wars.

Time Warner’s Breakthrough Leadership, Deutsche Bank’s Accomplished Top Leaders Advancement Strategies (ATLAS), and Novartis’ Executive Female Leadership programs teach high-potential women skills for proactive career management, introduce networking opportunities with senior-level leaders who can shepherd and sponsor their protégées, and forge a strong community of colleagues so they don’t feel they’re alone in the spotlight.

Other companies expand their pipeline of talented women by promoting a safe environment for female ambition to flourish. Intel’s Extending Our Reach program takes a novel approach by developing female vice presidents into a strong cohort of sponsors. “We want to have executive women teach other senior-level women,” explains chief diversity officer Rosalind Hudnell. “We’re looking to increase their visibility, encourage them to step into leadership roles, act as role models and not only increase but accelerate opportunities and advancement.”

Agreed, the list isn’t long but surely it’s also not complete.  Actually, The Glass Hammer cites Mark Chamberlain, Head of Diversity, Americas, Deutsche Bank as ‘Men Who Get It’.