We all know that there’s long been a discrepancy in equity between men and women at work, and across fields. The lack of an even playing field has become even more stark during COVID, and it’s important to reflect on the impact one year in – in alignment with International Women’s Day, too. It’s a combination of what’s happening at the corporate level, and what’s happening within families. There’s pressure at home, and culturally, for women to make up the gap and pick up responsibility as kids are learning from home, and many have lost childcare. At the same time, families are perhaps having to choose between one parent staying at home to take on the childcare roles. It’s only reasonable that the person making less money would bear the burden of giving up their career. And unfortunately, we know that women are disproportionately more likely to make less.
Through all of this, many women and working moms will blame themselves. I know this firsthand. The pressure to do all and be all has always felt severe, and that pressure is more amplified as we navigate this “new normal,” even a year in.
But on International Women’s Day, my message to other women out there is that it is ok: it is okay to not do it all; to rest if that is what you need – on some days, to just put one foot in front of the other – and when you are ready, to rise up recharged and to own your ambition, completely, boldly, fearlessly.
It is not one or the other; you can be ambitious and yet need rest. Pursue your ambitions on your own schedule. We’ve been conditioned to translate “ambition” to a linear career path, but we don’t need to feel confined by these expectations.
In fact, we need to stop holding ourselves – and other women – to normative standards and expectations because frankly, the norms have not been in our favor.
For so long, society has told women that “ambition” looks a particular way and that it is unattractive in a woman; and we’ve believed them, and shaped or tempered our ambitions accordingly. We spend time fearing judgment from others and letting that fear of judgment seep into our own psyche. But enough of that. Instead of being daunted by others’ opinions, let’s proudly, courageously own our ambitions – whatever that looks like – devise a strategy, hustle, follow through… and if we fail, we try again.
So, on IWD, my goal for myself, and for others, is to be fearlessly ambitious: to recognize ambitions as a strength, not something we need to temper. When we do this, we not only supercharge our psyches, we also create a chain-reaction of positivity and ambition; where other women see this attitude and say “if she can do it, so can I.” Owning our ambition is both our right and our responsibility to the next generation of women and young people, who all need role-models that lift up, fire up, and activate their imaginations!