Definition Essay about Ambition

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“Women’s ambition is not a vertical ambition, it’s this intrinsic, circular ambition to be happy,” Kevin Roberts executive chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, 2016.

Roberts's quote suggests and reflects a widely held view that women don’t reach top positions as they lack ambition (“ILM,” n.d.). Women make up roughly half of the workforce in the UK, however, fewer women than men reach senior management and leadership positions. In 2016 men still dominated subject areas seen as traditionally masculine such as engineering, computer science, etc. (Guardian, 2016), preventing women from getting the skills they need for the highest-paid jobs. Women impede their own careers due to the low standards and aims they set themselves (“ILM,” n.d.). The Ambition and Gender ILM report found that 73% of women believe that there are barriers, which prevent them from attaining these top positions and progressing to the top levels of management. Such barriers have been attributed to the ‘glass ceiling,’ the fact that women's lack of ambition leads to their underrepresentation in executive roles (Zillman, 2016 & Whitehead, 2013).

Nonetheless, research continuously demonstrates that men and women do not differ in their ability and potential to become leaders or in their aspirations to achieve high (Heilman & Haynes, 2005). Women also score higher than men on content relating to ambition such as desire for status (Schuh et al., 2014). Further, Watts et al. (2015) found that female students had greater occupational ambition than male students. Women made up 70% of health and social services managers and directors in 2016, whilst only making up 39% of financial institution managers and directors (CIPD, 2016). Thus, the difference between ambition in men and women is not the result of gender but what has been recognized as an external force, that uniquely challenges women in male-dominated environments, and this is proposed to be group identity (Peters, Ryan & Haslam, (2013). This study aims to investigate these gender differences in group identity processes; more explicitly measuring how different experiences of group interactions within (male-dominated) degree subjects might contribute to gender differences in ambition. Therefore we predict that ambition will be a function of the environment males and females find themselves in, more specifically their degree subject.

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Identity is hugely important; it helps individuals prepare and make sense of the world around them (Oyserman, 2015). Identity-based motivation theory, states that in particular situations people’s identities or self-concepts motivate them to take action towards their goals (Oyserman, 2015). Therefore in order to aim high and perform well i.e. be ambitious it is intrinsic that individuals identify with their group. How do people get to feel this sense of identity within their groups? Begeny and Huo, (2017) suggest two factors, intragroup belonging, and intragroup status contribute to group identification.

Belonging is a central human need and is considered vital for optimal psychological functioning (Easterbrook, & Vignoles, 2013). A lack of belonging has negative implications for the self-concept, and reduces interest and consequently reduces ambition Blader & Tyler, 2009). Making an individual feel that they belong has a number of positive impacts on their performance and their motivation to work hard and perform well (Walton, Logel, Peach, Spencer, & Zanna, 2015). Thus, intragroup belonging is associated with high levels of ambition (Fritz & Van Knippenberg, 2017). Therefore we predict that high levels of intragroup belonging will predict a high level of ambition.

Intragroup status increases both, identification with a group but also ambition. The desire for status is a central motive, and a number of factors such as well being, mental and physical health appear to depend on the level of status given by others (Anderson, Hildreth & Howland, 2015). Psychological benefits such as an increase in self-esteem translate into a higher sense of ambition and wanting to establish the success of the group (Huo, Binning, Molina & Funge, 2010). The group engagement model posits that the social identities of individuals and their organizations are strongly related to whether employees will engage in extra-role behavior, an ambitious related type of behavior (Blader & Tyler, 2009). Therefore we predict that high levels of intragroup status will predict a high level of ambition.

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Definition Essay about Ambition. (2024, January 30). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from
“Definition Essay about Ambition.” Edubirdie, 30 Jan. 2024,
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