Today, to challenge the cultural stigmas associated with women and ambition, the Tory Burch Foundation launched the global initiative, #EmbraceAmbition. This nonprofit campaign will encourage women and girls to voice their ambition and to own their power.
Directed by: Sophy Holland
Featuring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Kerry Washington, Reese Witherspoon,
Jon Hamm, Sheryl Sandberg, Eric Schmidt, Melinda Gates, Billie Jean King and more.
In 2004, a reporter asked me if I was “ambitious”. His question made me very uncomfortable. After the interview, a friend of mine called and said, “I really liked the article but you shied away from the word ambition.” She was right. I realized that I had bought into the stereotype that women shouldn’t admit to being ambitious – that it felt, in a way, unattractive.
Unfortunately, more than thirteen years later not a lot has changed. Even though I have learned to embrace my ambition and pursue my dreams, the cultural stigma around being an “ambitious woman” still exists. It is apparent daily, in very public and private ways; from the wealth of studies revealing that ambitious women are frequently penalized for their goals to some of our Foundation’s entrepreneurs sharing that they, “Google how to appear less ambitious.” In most cases, it’s an unconscious bias that women themselves internalize.
We all can play a part in ensuring ambition is no longer a harmful stereotype in six ways:
Talk about your ambitions – do not be afraid to own and voice them.
Be mindful of your own attitudes. Ask yourself, did I just react negatively to a woman for demonstrating her ambition?
Remember that ambition is incredibly personal. Determine what success means to you. It might be to run your own company or it might be to raise your children with integrity. (In my case, it’s both.) Whatever someone’s ambitions are, it’s not our place to judge them.
Support other women. As a friend, relative, or colleague help those around you make their ambitions a reality. When we support each other, we all do better.
Engage men in the discussion. Their involvement will help reduce the cultural biases their co-workers, partners, daughters, mothers, sisters, and friends face.
Join the movement and take the pledge to #EmbraceAmbition and own your power, your drive and your dreams.