Women- we have the power to create the working world we want.
And it's not necessarily about shattering glass ceilings. And it might not be about 'leaning in'.
It's about defining ambition... for yourself.
Now that might mean the corner office, and the big salary, and the important title, if that's how you define success.
But it might also mean a self-determined schedule so you can pick your kids up from school, or stay home during the day with babies and toddlers, or keep tabs on your teens while you also find time for your aging parents.
Your ideas of success might include bopping around to different cities or different countries as you pop in and out of remote desks and offices and even apartments around the world.
It might mean dabbling in your art, teaching yoga, and generating income on a project by project basis with your talent for visuals and quick wit on social media.
Your ideas for success might mean time for travel, time for friends, time to read, time to write, and time to keep fit.
You may be a part-time creative, full time parent, loving and committed daughter, with a clean house and a home cooked meal for anyone who arrives.
This may be your vision for ambition. And it's critical that we honor and recognize all of these pursuits as ambitious and worthy of financial viability and financial security.
For too long women have been told that in order to be successful, for their work and their lives to really count, they should want big salaries and big offices. We've been told that we have to 'step away from ambition' to raise kids, and we have been told to accept and expect that 're-entry' after 'time out' from that singular ambition has inevitable and just consequences. In fact, we have entrenched systems that support this inevitability. We have come to accept the story we're being told about what ambition women want.
And it is an acceptance of these systems that promote a one size fits all definition of ambition that indeed preserves this system. We have all become comfortable with it. There are more men named John and James at the helm of Fortune 500 companies than all the women leaders. There's roughly a 20% pay gap between women and men working the same positions with women receiving 80% of what men do. Just under 20% of the US Congress comprises of women.
And yet, we all know many, many women who are doing remarkable things every single day for themselves, their families, their communities, their companies, their organizations and for each other. And they may or may not be running a Fortune 500 company.
Aren't these women also ambitious? Isn't their work also valid and valuable?
We know, that, of course, it is. But if we are to change the tide and create the working world we really want for ourselves, then women must begin to tell new stories of ambition and we must honor and support these stories.
It is the danger of the single story of an ambitious women that limits our potential.
And so let's start to create the working world we want. A working world that honors, celebrates and supports, both socially and economically, the multitude of women's stories of ambition.