Black Women Are Twice as Career Ambitious Today

December 20, 2011  |  

Results from More magazine‘s annual workplace report showed that women today are skimming back on career ambition in search of more work-life balance. When asked flat out, 43% of the women surveyed described themselves as less ambitious now than they were 10 years ago, with only 15% indicating they are more ambitious.

Spinoff articles of the findings questioned whether American women were “going dutch” in reference to the causal attitude women in the Netherlands have toward their careers, with 68% of Dutch women working part time. But there was one exception in the More study: African American women. Black women were twice as likely as average to say they are more ambitious today.

What was interesting about the study was that it didn’t find that American women don’t want to work; they just don’t want to advance. Nearly three-fourths of the respondents said they would not apply for their boss’s job, with 38% saying they don’t want the politics, pressure, and responsibility.

Unfortunately the breakdown of the study didn’t look into why black women don’t follow the trend, but looking at the reasons women don’t want to advance, it suggests we are more confident about our ability to handle office politics–as that is a part of our regular work day regardless of the position we have. And with the need for more black women in corporate leadership positions and so many doors still being closed to us, it makes sense that we’re working over time to wedge our foot through the door in the first place. What isn’t clear is whether black women are OK with the sacrifices to their personal and social lives to make it to the top of the career ladder, or if they’re pressuring themselves in their own internal way to achieve a certain level of success.

Do the results of this study ring true for you? Are you working overtime to advance your career despite the pressure and responsibility, or are you more like the rest of American women who are searching for career flexibility?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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