Women’s Ambition is Stronger than Ever
First off, what is ambition? In 2021, The A Effect, in its in-depth ambition series, gave the concept a new definition.
“[It’s] the energy that enables us to reach the top of our own A-list, the energy we use to live up to our potential. Ambition comes from within. It is rooted in strong confidence and solid values, but it can’t exist in isolation; it is strengthened and elevated thanks to the contributions of those around us, those who believe in us. Our network and allies.”
Recently, there have been reports of the “end of ambition” among the younger generation. Yet our study shows that Canadian women are more ambitious than ever: 80% describe themselves as ambitious, a significant 10% leap from 2020(1). One in three women even claims to be highly ambitious!
The study also highlights very specific characteristics of women who say they are ambitious, which is important knowledge for any employer who wants to accelerate the professional development of women in their company, and thus move towards greater parity.
Ambitious Women Take Charge of Their Development
With their growth mindset (a concept developed by American psychologist Carol Dweck), ambitious women believe in their own capacity for development and take action twice as often to achieve their professional goals as women who say they’re not ambitious.
First, ambitious women aren’t afraid to analyze their weaknesses, either for self-improvement or to get support for overcoming them, and they’re more aware of their strengths, without worrying about others’ judgement.
What’s more, they set career goals for themselves and share them with their spouse or write them down, either in a calendar or a progress journal. And there’s a key difference to take note of here: 97% of women who say they’re ambitious give themselves professional objectives to achieve within the coming year, compared to only 76% of women who say they’re not. And challenging yourself is crucial for venturing out of your comfort zone, it means taking the risk of learning from your mistakes and developing new ways of looking at things.
Ambitious women celebrate their successes and achievements to a greater extent than those without ambition. In behavioural transformation, one of the known ways to boost your confidence is daring to speak positively about your success.
Finally, ambitious women make use of the support of allies and won’t hesitate to speak to coaches and mentors (formally or informally).
The More Ambitious the Woman, the More She Stands Out in Her Organization
Ambitious and highly ambitious women, being surer of themselves than the self-identified unambitious, trust their instincts up to 4 times more when making a decision! In a complex world, where everything moves quickly and information is fragmented and ambiguous, the ability to trust yourself is essential. In fact, it’s something often mentioned in the literature as an essential leadership quality.
To perform good risk assessment, you’ve got to be careful of the noise around you. [To deal with a situation that involves risk] I evaluate the pros and cons. And when in doubt, take a leap of faith.
Annick Guérard, President and CEO, TRANSAT
Ambitious women take more initiative and accept higher profile projects, even if it means risking failure. They are twice as likely to ask their supervisor to delegate more responsibility and additional projects to them. And the more they step out of their comfort zone with these new projects, the more they develop their self-confidence.
Developing one’s ambition is possible. The behavioural transformation implied by these initiatives listed above is at the heart of our Ambition Challenge. Indeed, 86% of the women who have participated in the program say that within a year, they have taken initiatives to lead a new project in their company.
The More Ambitious the Woman, the More She Dares to Take Risks
Ambitious women are more likely (1.5 times) than unambitious women to start a new job for which they don’t meet all the criteria, and won’t hesitate to attempt new career paths.
They also take more calculated risks (and nearly twice as many for highly ambitious women). The study revealed that fear of risk now sits in 7th place in the list of obstacles to women’s ambition, having been in 2nd place in 2020. So, women have generally become less risk-averse.
In short, the more a woman is ambitious and works in an environment that nurtures her ambition, the more she’s able to develop her confidence and take calculated risks. Ambitious women whose ambition is nourished contribute to the performance of the company. So how will you leverage and cultivate an environment that nurtures women’s ambition?