Hack 6: Ambitious is negative?

Last week we discussed feminism…1st wave… 2nd wave…and the waves we face today. I neglected to say anything in TA Linnea’s class because the conversation was fast paced and evolved quite fluidly. As a psychology major I immediately think Bem’s Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) and many of the terms used to describe yourself. If you don’t recall the BSRI, it is a self report questionnaire geared to determine how masculine, feminine, or androgynous a person is developed by Sandra Bem in 1974. One of the terms used to determine masculinity was “ambitious.”

I’ve told you all this merely because of a situation that happened to a close woman I know. As she was going through a job interviewing process, a non-listed reference was contacted for counsel to discuss her as an applicant (this is illegal I might add). The reference was glowing, but had only one caution to add “She is ambitious.” The woman ultimately got the job, but was told much later about the so called “reference.” You know what? She is ambitious. In 9 months she went from a program manager to Director of her department, jumping over 5 pay grades/titles. Since when is ambitious a bad thing? If the applicant was male I don’t believe the situation would of been the same.

Until I was told the story of this whole encounter I never really thought much of ambition as masculine or feminine, much like many of the other 59 terms in the BSRI. I’m including a link to an article I found. I hope you find it informative.


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