The Fairer Sex: Increased Ambition in the American Female

Women kick ass.

I don’t just mean that as in “Yay! Women are awesome! Let’s cheer them on!” No, I mean they can totally kick your ass in today’s society. My mom was always the main breadwinner in my family growing up. The president of my University was a woman. If you look in at the children of your local high school or even junior high you will probably see the boys acting noticeably more barbaric than the girls. While boys physically fight each other, women tend to fight with their words or reputation.

Growing up in a small town in the northeastern United States I’d go to school and notice all the girls getting their pencil cases and note books out to prepare for class while my friends and I put our spandex book covers on our heads just to intentionally look like idiots and make each other laugh. The girls always seemed more organized, aware, and most of all driven. They seemed as if they were in school because they wanted to be there, or at least they understood why it was important. My guy friends and I, on the other hand, just tried to survive school and make it out alive.

“When it comes to emotions, women know how to paint with the full set of oils, while men are busy doodling with crayons” -Hank Moody from Californication

All of the students recognized for scholastic achievement at my high school graduation were women. Our class student government was comprised solely of women. I say “women” because while my guy friends and I were still mere boys, these seemed like full-fledged women running the show. I started to look at the opposite sex as the ones that got shit done.

Lynda Carter Glow
The beautiful and talented Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman 1979. She’s a symbol of strength and power for all women I believe.

Now those are just my experiences, or as my old college research professor called it “every day ways of knowing.” You should never use everyday ways of knowing as a representation of the whole. Just because this is what happened to me, doesn’t mean it is happening everywhere. I feel like a lot of people nowadays don’t understand that fact. We should all strive to rely on research to paint the overall understanding of our reality… so here’s some research:

The Pew Research Center released an article in March of 2018 for Women’s History Month. The statistics don’t lie.

FT_18.03.15_gendergains_womenarenowBack in the 1960’s, women were the sole provider in only 11% of American households. “In 2014, women were the sole or primary financial provider in four-in-ten households with children younger than 18” (Pew Research).

We’ve all seen what the 50’s and 60’s were like in America (watch and episode or two of AMC’s Madmen if you haven’t). Women were widely stuck in secretary, teacher, nurse, or stay-at-home roles in society. And while the country remains divided on whether women are at an equal standing in the workforce today, (America’s stance on the progress of women’s rights is that “Half of Americans say the country hasn’t gone far enough, 39% say efforts on this front have been about right and 10% say the country has gone too far) I think we can all agree that things are better than they once were.

This image is from Pintrest

To be fair: Bureau of Labor Statistics – In 2014, women who worked full time in wage and salary jobs had median usual weekly earnings of $719, which was 83 percent of men’s median weekly earnings ($871). 

This paints a nice picture. Policies have changed in the name of evening the playing field so women get a fair shake. In turn, they have made leaps and bounds in career advancement and academic success. But women aren’t just succeeding. They seem to have much more ambition.About two-thirds of women between ages 18 and 34 cited a high-paying career among their top life priorities, compared with just 59% of young men, the Pew Research Center in Washington said.” Women are hungrier than men, hungry for success, but they don’t stop there. While young women now put a higher value than men on their career, roughly six in 10 women ages 18 to 34 said being a good parent was one of the most important things in their life. That was up 17 percentage points from 1997.” Women want it all, and unlike men, they have the statistics to back it up.

But as James Poulos from Forbes says about the research above, “no single poll, or even many polls, can tell us everything we’d ever want to know about society. But the finding is so provocative precisely because it squares so well with what so many of us are sensing intuitively and hearing anecdotally.He is saying women seem so driven in our everyday lives.

In his article, James goes on to cite 3 different views of society’s progression naming one view in particular as the perfect explanation for women’s surge in productivity. He talks about the transitional view of optimism in society. “On this view, optimism is the product of the  conditions that characterize a society after the collapse of constraints imposed by hierarchy, but before the onset of the subtle-yet-powerful barriers to ambition that are imposed by equality itself.” He’s saying now is a sweet spot for women. This transitional view suggests women are so kickass right now because they just came out of a state of oppression (not being able to vote, unchecked harassment, and unfair discrimination based on their gender and not their abilities in the workplace), and they have yet to meet that wall of equality. A super simple way to put it that women are still pumped up from fighting for equality and it has made them stronger as a group.

The easier part of this transitional view to understand is women are fired up over fighting for their own equality, but seeing equality as a wall is a bit more difficult to grasp. James Poulos goes on to explain “women are increasingly more career-driven than men because men are now beginning to run up against the barriers to ambition created by the onset of general social equality — whereas women still have quite a ways to go before they, too, start to hit these seemingly invisible walls.” And that makes sense to me that once equality is achieved (arguably for any oppressed group) things kind of fizzle out, because then everyone is faced with the same problems. There’s less comrade, and no common enemy to face. We’re all just equally valued and the only enemy we face is everyday problems. That’s the end game, the main goal of equality, and women haven’t hit that yet. They are still a blazing hot spear of vengeance trying to bridge that pay gap.

In conclusion, women kickass. Through my own experiences I have noticed women having their shit together more than men. It turns out it wasn’t just me. The research shows women have been increasingly productive in their careers and maybe even more impressive, still hold family values with more importance than they did in the late 90’s. Even journalists from Forbes have applied in-depth theoretical views to explain why women are kicking so much ass right now. Personally I’m all for it. And to put an end to this post, here’s a lyric from Tupac Shakur’s Keep Ya Head Up:

“And since we all came from a woman
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman
I wonder why we take from our women
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women?
I think it’s time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women
And if we don’t we’ll have a race of babies
That will hate the ladies, that make the babies
And since a man can’t make one
He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one
So will the real men get up
I know you’re fed up ladies, but keep your head up” – Tupac Shakur

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