What Keeps High-Achieving Women From Choosing Executive Positions. VI. Results: Themes One – Three
(MR) “I wasn’t just told that I was good. I was told I was better. That may have been hard to live up to but it gave me the confidence to plow through barriers, overcome difficulties and succeed at all cost. I don’t even know what it feels like to be a victim. I may have been misunderstood and taken a few wrong paths, but my father had built it into my core that I wasn’t a girl you could keep down for long.”
(BS) “My mom took me to figure skating lessons. While I was at my first lesson I saw the speed skaters. I said, ‘that’s what I really want to do.’ She was probably thinking, ‘No, no, figure skating will give you the balance,” but she just let me go there. And she supported me…I believe [my parents] think I can do no wrong…Now, whatever I put my mind to in life, I’ve achieved it if I wanted it. Whether it’s making the volleyball team after I got cut or getting the job or my master’s degree. There’s nothing that I wanted that I didn’t get.”
(EM) “But I remember at one point [my father] was talking about that he wanted his kids to take over his company, and he says, ‘And Emily, you can be vice president of this.’ I remember thinking, vice president? Why wouldn’t I be president? I don’t understand. He says, ‘Well because I mean, the boys, they’re men, and the industry is mostly men, and they might prefer…’ I remember being so mad at him. I just hated him for making that comment. It’s not the way I was raised, it was always, ‘You can be anything you want to be!’ So then he’s saying I can’t do that, which I didn’t understand. Well he has since apologized 150 times for that day.”
(DK) “…my skating coach taught me that my brothers weren’t better than me and that I could do anything I put my mind to.”
Survey responses: 60% said they had a cheerleader in their life that had helped them to feel special and strong.
Survey comment: “Looking back, I had an entire support system that acted as life cheerleaders encouraging me and my dreams. This list includes my mom, dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends.”
When the women entered the workforce, they were persistent in getting their first jobs—not taking “no” for an answer, even in male-dominated fields. In many cases, they didn’t even view this as persistence. They viewed it as the way to get what they wanted and deserved.