Ambitious women: what do you think?

The Australian Prime Minister (middle) with 5 of her senior ministers and the Australian Governor General (3rd from right)

Ambition is defined in the Oxford dictionary as:
''something that you want to do or achieve very much''.

We currently have a female Prime Minister, who has appointed five females to senior ministerial roles. We have a female Governor General and in the Territory where I live, we have a female Chief Minister.  These are all very ambitious women.  They would not have risen to these positions without ambition. Whilst the feminist movement is rejoicing at this "achievement" I must admit I do feel more than a little sad  . . . the new Minister for Health has a baby under the age of one.  How can she possibly raise a baby and run the Health portfolio? The truth is, she can't.
What are your first thoughts when you hear that a woman is ambitious?  I think of a woman willing to do almost anything to climb the corporate ladder as high as she can and her family (if she has any) is not her first priority.  She is willing to put in the long hours at the office and will get home late most nights, her life revolves around work. I often find ambitious women "live to work" and are unsympathetic to others (in particular women) who do not share their view on life.  I always think that ambitious women should skip motherhood as their poor children and their husbands are most likely to be badly neglected.

. .  . .  ambition is the great unnamed problem for modern women. We have it in spades as little girls, and even teenagers. But studies show that once we enter workplaces, walk down the aisle and bear children, it fades and chokes. We begin to see it as selfish, or indulgent, and get more criticism than men do for pursuing goals outside the home. (link)

I was interested to read that ambition is declining among working women ''Declining ambition among women is a trend,'' says Ellen Galinsky, the president of the Families and Work Institute, citing a recent study which found that American women aged 35-44 who wanted a job with greater responsibility had dropped from 40 per cent in 1992 to 35 per cent in 2008.

Is ambition selfish? Personally women who are ambitious tend to go overboard and their ambition becomes their driving force, so yes, to me it is selfish . . . it is all about what they want, it is not about what God wants. Christian women who are very ambitious will find they are moving further away from Christ, who should be their driving force - they cannot serve two masters.  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24) 

However I think this applies to both men and women . . . when men are work driven, they too loss focus on Christ . . . how does a husband care for his family if he is at work late into the evening. 

For those of us who do work outside the home, we need to find a balance that does not result in our families being neglected and most importantly that Christ remains front and centre in our lives.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  
(Matthew 22:37)



  1. I work outside of the home, but would not label myself an ambitious career woman. A few years ago, I turned down an offer from my boss for an executive position with our company. It would have meant more money and authority. But also more stress, travel and would have impeded upon my family time. My current position is far less glamorous (mostly secretarial in nature). But it's low stress, with no travel, time off whenever needed and allows me to be home in the evenings to cook dinner every night.

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  2. I don't find ambitious women to be very pleasant to spend time with. They tend to be *much* less feminine. They are too busy to care. They often "wear the pants" in their household. And I think they are in danger of making their husbands feel unimportant, often.

    I agree with you - they neglect their family, and are far too busy to even know their children. When Dan was working in the city, one of the bosses of the company was one of these ambitious women, and she didn't even know where her 14 year old son had gone on holidays with or where to or when he would be back. That is neglect. She also expected all her staff to be just as ambitious, and because of that she probably couldn't stand Dan's attitude!!

    And yes, you are right - ambitious men fall into the same traps. I agree that ambition is selfish. And I agree that you cannot be ambitious like that and still serve the Lord as you should.

    I was interested to read that the quantity of ambitious women is declining - and I'm glad (ambitious women are almost embarrassing). I really think that in order to become like that, a woman must squelch her natural tendencies, because God designed women (on the whole) to be maternal, nurturing and family oriented.

  3. Clara - this is one reason why I prefer not working with a female manager. Even though I have had some really nice ones, I have had some very ambitious females managers who are just nasty (smile at you but quite happy to stab you in the back the moment you weren't looking). I much prefer working with males as they aren't quite so ruthless. It’s almost like these women want to be seen as more "masculine" than a male and as a result they loss their femininity and caring attitude. This is probably why I will never make a really good senior manager as I don’t have this ruthless streak!

  4. The Working Home Keeper - I also work and have to think twice about promotion - what does it mean for my family. I can I do both jobs well, the answer is generally no. I also don’t want to come home exhausted after a day of managing staff as that is when I am most likely to snap at my husband.

    I also like having the time to care for my family and my home, I wouldn't be able to do this if I worked in a more senior position - AND I like what I do at the moment.

  5. Well, I couldn't run my home even half well & work. I tried but *I* can't. It is hard enough organising my household.

    Male or female the ambitious sorts should not have families; the families are the ones who pay the price.

    I can't say our PM has impressed me. All that ambition has not made her a good PM.

  6. I agree with you.

    I do, however, welcome the opportunity for those women who never marry (even though they would dearly love to do so) to be able to support themselves with equal work - equal pay.

    Research tells us that women who never marry generally suffer most poorly in old age because they have never found work to support themselves completely. I am so glad those days are changing.

    If a woman is not blessed with husband and family, then why should she not be ambitious?

  7. Jeanne - I quite agree that for women who never marry it is important to have a good job that provides for them financially later in life . My aunt was single all her life and a leader in her field of physiotherapy (during the time of polio until she retired in the 1980's), she lectured at the university and traveled the world, but she was never ambitious in the modern sense. She simply worked hard and did her very best. She was offered an Australian Day Award once and she declined as she felt it wasn't necessary as she was only doing her job and as a Christian it wasn't necessary. A modern ambitious woman would have grabbed the award as it would have looked "good" on her resume.

  8. Hi there Joluise ah I did so very much enjoy reading this it was balm to my soul, may He be the ruler of our hearts in al things.. as John the Baptist said "He must increase, I must decrease"- amen, even so LORD Jesus, come!! may He be the king of my hear now and forever!

    - you might enjoy my post on Eygpt we really need to pray for that land and all palces where believers are oppressed..
    love Shaz in oz.x

  9. Your aunt must have been an amazing woman, Joluise!

    Funny, I always thought of myself as ambitious until I married. Then it disappeared just like that, and I was content to be a help-meet to my husband and a mother to Jemimah. I think now that I was just happy in my work and wanted to do it well, and now I am still happy in my new work and want to do that well too!! Is that ambition, do you think? I don't think it is, probably. Not ambition in the modern sense, as you discribe.

    Interesting post. Thanks. You have me thinking here!!

    PS Merry Christmas, my friend.

  10. I have mixed feelings about this. I think that women should be able to rise up in their careers and accomplish great things, if that is their desire. I do heartily agree, though, that one cannot have it all. If you want to do that, then you have to know that your personal life will be changed by it. Maybe those women shouldn't have children - I don't know. Or maybe they should have children only if they have a supportive spouse who is welling to take on the lions share of raising the children.

    We had a female governor in my home state that I saw frequently. Her husband stopped working when she was elected, so he could support the kids, who were all still at home at the time. I admire him for doing that, and them for making that choice together.

    I think the truth of the matter is that we are all adults, and must realize that there will sometimes be difficult choices made. For some of us that means a career. For others a family. For me personally, I'm content as I am - with no children, and no brilliant career. But I wouldn't give my husband up for anything.

    In the end we must all make our own choices, and trust God to lead us in His way.

  11. Val - The partner of our female Prime Minister doesn't work, however he is patron to a variety of charities as would any "first lady" would be.

    I don't have a problem with a woman doing the best she can, but those that trample over others for the sake of ambition are the ones that really worry me and I have certain seen this in my various work places - maybe in the places I have worked attract these sorts of women!!. They are quite ruthless.

    It is an interesting topic!


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