Ambition and women or is it about ambitious women (men)?

>What is it about ambitious women that sends the society in  a tizzy?   It sounds as though ambitions of women ought to be fulfilled through their near and dear ones, like through children, through husband, father, brother, etc but never for herself?  Take for example Sunanda Pushkar and the IPL row – columns and columns are being written about her and Tharoor’s relationship (how it matters to other people, i am yet to get a clue), about her ambition, her social climbing, including her plastic surgery, etc.  yuck, how low can we get?

But if i were to take all the things that are written about her ambition and her “social climbing”, I can see a pattern that gets established between being ambitious and being a woman, that I am sure many women have faced and are facing in their lives.  I remember my corporate days when I used to be an aggressive marketing person and I was questioned by one of the most revered HR practitioners in the Company as to why was I so ambitious? This question of course had a link to his wife who was also involved in business link with us, but that is another story at some other time.  Being in the awe of the gentleman in question and always ready to take the “blame,  I felt suitably chastised and small and decided that being ambitious was against having a sense of well being for oneself and for the context.  It took me nearly ten more years to come back to square one and accept that being “ambitious” was a healthy and powerful part of oneself that makes us realise our dreams and helps us shape our chosen destiny.  Of course, I am not talking about fulfilling ambition at all costs and trampling everything and everyone who come in the way.   But to accept ambition for what it is and accept that as a natural phenomena for women, i think is still fraught with ambivalence in our society.

I am cognizant about women being encouraged to study, to take up employment, to take up entrepreneurship and to fulfill their ambition in today’s society.  However, if we are to take a moment here and actually follow an end to end path, then i am not sure how many actually end up fulfilling their chosen dream – it can be due to marriage, to child birth, to family pressure or simply because one is a woman in an area which is traditionally dominated by men.  I know these are cliched but lets not hide behind it any more.  I was watching with dismay all the things written about Sunanda Pushkar in the various media including Facebook and the tonality used about her.  Not many people wrote about Tharoor or Modi and their ambition but people went to town about her and her “amorous” linkage with Tharoor.  I found it disgusting.

Lets come back to “ambition”. I think ambition and power are inextricably linked.  Power and women are a lethal and unsavoury combination in many people’s mind, more so with women.  Women who do make through the corridors of power, often have to pay a heavy price, usually character assassination being the primary among them.  But beyond these done to death issues, are there other areas that we usually don’t deal with when it comes to power and ambition?  what are they?  how do we view them for ourselves?  what has been our experience?

If I were to look at my life, I find that actually accepting my ambitions to myself has been the greatest task for me and often times, the ambitions felt illegitimate for a variety of reasons – for not having the right pedigree, for not having the right connections, for fear of loss of a fragile balance, for fear of being perceived as an aggressive person, etc, etc.  Hence my action and my responses to my own ambitions have always been ambivalent and hesitant and the result has been less than what I could have achieved or should have achieved.

My question here to others are – what has been your experience, both as a man or as a woman? how have you experienced ambition for yourself?  what has been the enablers and the blocks as you faced them?

I live in Bangalore, India, and by profession, I am CEO of a consulting organization, an Organization Consultant and an Executive Coach. I write because I like writing my thoughts and reflections for me to review my life and the life as I see around myself. However, sometimes it makes sense to convey my thoughts to others and connect with others. Maybe it strikes a chord; may be it does not. My life has been my most outstanding teacher, which is why I like sharing my experiences, memories, encounters and other narratives that I build as I go along. I am interested in people, society, culture, ways of life, individual and collective narratives/stories as they lead us to discover each other as nothing else does. I also write about coaching, people's lives, culture, stories, mothering my daughter, believing in a feminine way of life, and most of all, believe that all politics starts from the self and personal convictions

2 thoughts on “Ambition and women or is it about ambitious women (men)?

  1. >'If I were to look at my life, I find that actually accepting my ambitions to myself has been the greatest task for me'….It is the fine tuning of a woman's mind that is responsible. Society accepts a sacrificing woman, a docile woman and a woman who dare not prove herself. Ambitious?? certainly not. Women and ambition do not seem to go hand in hand. It is automatically understood that she must be disrespectful towards her husband and an uncaring mother. I had it easy because my husband was very supportive and my colleagues were gems.My ambitions remained unrealized due to another societal menace viz. corruption but then that is another matter altogether.


  2. >@HG – thank you for your comment. yes, that is what the society expects and the corruption that you talk about is also another part of the patriarchal social system. Incidentally, patriarchy harms men and women equally. I however, would like the women to question as to why most of us still feel ambivalent towards other women who they perceive as ambitious? I recognise that it is part of our inherited thought pattern but isn't it time that we transcend this?


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