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Magazine survey says women are ‘less and less’ ambitious

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Summary of story from The Careerist, November 6, 2011

‘More’ magazine has claimed on the basis of a readers’ survey that women are becoming less and less ambitious regarding their careers.

The survey asked 500 American participants, all aged between 35 and 60 and all with university degrees, how their ambitions had changed in the last ten years.

And 43 per cent reported feeling less ambitious.

Only 15 per cent said they were more ambitious.

The survey respondents also appeared to have less interest in advancing in the workplace; 73 per cent said they would not apply for their manager’s job, with 38 per cent citing the unwanted additional stress and responsibility as the deciding factor.

The survey also showed that the respondents value flexibility most of all in their jobs, with 92 per cent saying that flexibility was their number one priority.

“It’s about control over how you work,” explains More deputy editor Jennifer Braunschweiger.

“It could be a more compressed schedule, being able to break during the day to take care of other things”, and not necessarily working less or going part-time.

The magazine prints a tie-in list of the ‘top ten’ women’s jobs according to what it claims are women’s priorities.

These included jobs that allow women to set their own timetable, such as financial advisors, public relations consultants and web writers.

Others were fields that are already female-dominated and typically involve women helping out a male superior, such as nursing and dental hygiene.

WVoN comment: There is very little that this survey tells us about women’s ambitions, or even the ambitions of More readers, given the limited and self-selecting sample group.

Claims about women’s decreasing ambition would also be stronger if they were related to the ambitions of men of the same age group.

Since ambition is also related to age – a 35 year-old may see herself as having a longer future in the workplace and more reason to be ambitious than a 60 year-old – the claims would be more useful if they came from a smaller age range or made the distribution of ages clearer.

In short: magazine surveys are not very helpful for doing anything beyond proving a stereotype, which More uses to push stereotypically ‘appropriate’ careers for women.

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