Friday, April 18, 2014

Thought of the Week: The image problem of ambitious women.


Ambitious women are often perceived negatively by both men and women. I have a theory why this is so. Like most of my theories it was formulated in a moment of idle day dreaming and offered here without further research or argument.

The 80's and 90's witnessed an attempt to redefine the pejorative term 'bitch' into a positive description of an assertive and confident modern women. This in turn led to a proliferation of high-powered, aggressive, career focused women throughout popular culture. But like their male counterparts such characters are not practically likable. We may enjoy their battles and squabbles on the small screen but most of us would never choose to socialize or work with such characters because they are portrayed as being untrustworthy and of valuing people only as a means to further their careers. This in turn created the image problem for ambitious women.

Ambition is neither a virtue nor a vice but dependent on the wisdom of the goal. I respect a person with ambitions of escaping the drudgery of wage slavery by creating their own business. But I find it hard to admire people focused on advancing their careers within a corporate structure because it seems unwise to invest so much time and effort into companies which frankly shouldn't exist in any society that values rationality.

My own field of financial services frequently strikes me as completely absurd. We have tens of thousands of people worldwide spending a significant portion of their life moving largely imaginary funds from one computerized hard drive to another so a minority can skim the cream off the top. How anyone can find meaning or satisfaction in such work is beyond me.

Of course I except from any criticism people with the ambition of advancing corporately just to earn basic standard of living.

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