In the Blog
For the past three years I worked for a non-profit company that was dominated by women. A majority on the VP’s and the CEO were of the female persuasion, as were all of my immediate colleagues. Anti-discrimination policies were firmly in place, and my manager, my immediate supervisor and the union were all more than supportive. I had full benefits, annual cost of living raises, and I felt the door was always open if I had a complaint or wanted to negotiate a raise. I was respected and as a result I loved my job and worked hard at it. The reality of this utopian situation is that as a result I got real complacent about workplace feminism. Now that I’m out in the wide workplace world again, I’m starting to notice that I keep hitting my head on the glass ceiling and that the former respect I received doesn’t come so easily. I used to scoff at that common wage discrepancy statistic- you know the one, “women do two thirds of the world’s work, earn one tenth of the income, and own less than one hundredth of the world’s property,” but now, as a freelancer surrounded by people who don’t have the same (cough) “boundaries” I’ve been accustomed to, I more than get it. And I am more than enraged by it.
So, as I am wont to do, I read a book.
AmBITCHOUSous (Morgan Road Books) is Debra Condren’s attempt to offer her female readers a new perspective on ambition- as in its not selfish or greedy to have a bunch of it. Condren draws on the stories of 500 “happily ambitious” women, revealing to readers how we can claim the recognition, money and respect we deserve without feeling guilty about it. Although at times the book comes off a little “mainstream self-help,” her intentions are valid and at times her instructions are pretty practical. Its the kind of advice book that is full of empowering (however obvious) ways of thinking that you can incorporate into all you do, regardless of what you do. Condren has also done a fine job of including women both at the beginning of their careers and at the end, encouraging everyone to be financially independent and responsible regardless of their position in life- i.e., dont wait for a partner to look into buying property, etc. She also includes some really practical tips on how to negotiate getting paid what you’re worth, something I am completely lousy at (I am famous for saying “money’s not important if I love what I do” while watching my male colleagues get paid much more for much less work.)
If you can overlook the stereotypically “inspirational speaker” style of this book (sample: “I DON’T HAVE TO AGREE TO ANYTHING I DON’T WANT TO DO”), it does act as good guide to setting up your boundaries and expectations at the start of your career.
And although some of her nuggets of wisdom are obvious ones, I don’t think its bad to get a little all-caps reminder sometimes…