89% of women set more ambitious life goals when in the presence of a female they admire, a new study suggests
Women are helping women want more for themselves.
A new study by Lean Cuisine and New York University psychology professor Emily Balcetis found that 89% of women set more ambitious life goals in the presence of other women they admired than they did when contemplating them alone. And 77% chose greater aspirations in the aspects of life they deemed most important.
Balcetis administered a questionnaire to 18 participants, asking them a series of personal, career and finance questions like what they want most in life, how much money they’d want to make and their dream career. Then, weeks later, the participants were invited to “shop” at a makeshift store where items on the shelves mimicked the same survey questions involving ideal family life and level of education they’d want to achieve — but this time, they were selecting these life choices in the presence of an influential woman in their life.
Despite stereotypes that suggest female relationships trigger anxiety and pressures, the study found, the women chose much more ambitiously than they did when completing the survey alone — deciding on higher salaries and more hours.
“This idea of having it all is an expectation that is placed disproportionally on women who are sometimes making choices to care for family first and career second, but that may not reflect what her own ideal life might look like,” Balcetis told Moneyish of why most of the women chose less for themselves when taking the survey on their own. “When they were in conversation with the other women who are inspirational to them, they were able to think about what they wanted versus what society expects of them. Women can encourage each other to shoot for more where it matters most, rather than working to accomplish something that society says we should.”
And plenty of powerhouse females have put these findings to work. Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, who credits Facebook’s Lori Goler and Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington as strong mentors in her life, launched the campaign “Together Women Can” in 2016 aimed at inspiring women to be mentors and allies to other women in the workplace. Sandberg found that acknowledging the work of a female coworker can help them find their professional niche.
“Coming to the table and saying, ‘This was a great project and this was based on Amy’s idea,’ is another way we can celebrate each other,” Sandberg told ABC News at the time, adding that those “strong moves” in the workplace help better all women.
A separate study by KPMG suggests women are specifically looking for female role models in the workplace: Sixty-seven percent of women said they need more support to build confidence and feel like they can become leaders. What’s more, companies that implement mentorship programs play a pivotal role in contributing to an employee’s personal development: Sixty-seven percent of women reported they’d learned the most important lessons about leadership from other women, and 82% of professional working women thought access to networking with female leaders would help advance their careers.
Some women, like business partners Alaina Kaczmarski and Danielle Moss, co-founders of The EveryGirl Network LLC, a networking and career website targeted at working women, decided to partner to combine their shared strengths of blogging and finance smarts into a company instead of branching off separately.
“We have very different strengths and work styles and we’ve seen the balance of that time and time again,” said Kaczmarski of why she chose to team up with her former college classmate instead of going into business solo. “Each of us takes the lead with different parts of the business when one of us is more confident or better trained in.”
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