What Keeps High-Achieving Women From Choosing Executive Positions. VI. Results: Themes One – Three

What Keeps High-Achieving Women From Choosing Executive Positions. VI. Results: Themes One – Three

(JS) “I literally created this life. Every place I’ve been people said to me, ‘Once you take this demanding job you’re not going to be able to do that,’ and I’m like, ‘Watch me.’ I would never tell someone they can’t do something. I don’t believe in that. I think you can do anything you want to do. I’m so bothered when people say that. Where is their frame of reference that they feel like they have to cripple someone else? My challenges aren’t roadblocks…they help me prove what I can do.”

(JE) “Why did I choose to be an engineer? It’s not a teacher (like her mother). Honestly, looking back, I had something to prove. I am smart enough to be an engineer.”

(BS) “I don’t like someone else telling me what I can’t do. Just when you think you know what’s best for me…I’ll do more.”

(DK) “Well I’m thinking now, with 20-20 hindsight…part of my motivation is kind of like saying. ‘I told you so’ in a nice way. There is a sense of proving one’s self…part of it is feeling like someone is always trying to hold me back. I’ve achieved success, I’ve excelled in certain areas, and then there would be somebody knocking me down. But then I come back each time even stronger….Even if I overcompensate in my effort to prove myself.”

Survey responses:  When asked if they felt they ever had something to prove at work, 67% said “Yes, and it has mostly to do with proving what I could do that someone said I couldn’t.”  Another 13% said they felt they needed to prove that a woman could do a particular job.

Sample survey comments:

“Yes, it mostly has to do with proving that I can take on any challenge and knock it out of the park.”

“I am often driven to do things that seem impossible.”

“Yes, mostly because I am an African American.”

“Proving that I can do it all—demonstrating that a woman can both achieve great things professionally AND be a wife and mother.”

“I want to prove I can make it in a man’s world.”

“I am not competitive per se; I want to over-achieve in order to surprise myself.”


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About the Author

Marcia ReynoldsIn addition to coaching leaders in global companies, Dr. Marcia Reynolds travels the world speaking and teaching classes in advanced coaching skills, leadership and emotional intelligence. She is the author of 3 books and has been quoted in major online and print publications in the US and Europe.

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