When we talk about women and equality, the emphasis is always placed on when companies are going to open their doors to women, or when there will no longer be a glass ceiling. The thing is, in 2014, we don’t need to wait around for a red carpet to be rolled out for us. No person who is smart enough to run a company really thinks that they shouldn’t hire a woman because she isn’t as smart or capable. The number one reason there aren’t more women running countries and companies is because there aren’t more women who want to run countries and companies.
As Sheryl Sandberg notes, “Until women are as ambitious as men, they’re not gong to achieve as much as men.”
There is an achievement gap between men and women. I think this is in large part to our cultural expectations of women. There are plenty of men who run companies and countries that have a wife and kids. It doesn’t stop there for these people. Men who are married are actually more capable of achieving more because they have a wife who takes care of the household minutiae, allowing them to spend more time focusing on work. When women get married, they become less capable of achieving more, in general, because they put themselves into this role of helper.
As far as we have come as women, we still don’t have the ambition that men have. We want to be helpers rather than doers. We are content to say “my husband’s success is my success, because he couldn’t do it without me caring for our children, doing his laundry, making his meals.”
We think we are selfish when we do something that isn’t for other people, men call that living.
I don’t want us to be content with calling someone else’s success our own, because we fill a subservient role in their success. It’s like a secretary calling her boss’ success their own because they took their calls. Sure, the boss relied on his or her secretary for their success, but the secretary doesn’t get the accolades, the money, or the credit. They are a replaceable helper to the boss.
If we really want to close the equality gap, we need to think about how we can close the ambition gap: encourage women to dream big, and not to settle for a helper role.