Career Ambitions of Women Grew Over Past Year, Survey Highlights

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The pandemic has taken a huge toll on women, as it has exacerbated many of the challenges they already faced, including access to financing, industry segmentation, family commitments and confidence. There are encouraging signs, though. While women are still feeling burned out from work, a new survey finds that ambition rebounded from last year, and remains highest for women of color.

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The new Women at Work survey, released by CNBC and Momentive, found that while ambition increased, especially among women of color, it is still below early pandemic levels.

Indeed, 66% of Black women describe themselves as “very ambitious” when it comes to their career, up from 54% in last year’s poll. Overall, 49% of women describe themselves as “very ambitious” when it comes to their career, up from 45% last year, according to the survey.

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In addition, 93% of Black women, 90% of Hispanic women, 86% of white women and 83% of Asian women describe themselves as very or somewhat ambitious, the survey notes.

“A lot of the working mothers we work with are really excited about the possibility to be in a flex arrangement because their companies didn’t even entertain that option pre-pandemic,” Runa Knapp, the co-founder and business director at recruiting platform Connectalent, told CNBC. “So as long as companies continue to make their environments inclusive of all types of employees, I’m expecting ambition levels will continue to increase and maybe even surpass what we saw pre-pandemic.”

In another encouraging sign, the survey shows that 20% of women say their career has advanced in the last year, up slightly from the 14% reported in March 2021. On the downside, 20% say their career experienced a setback in the last year and 51% say things have stayed the same.

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Another key finding is that young women and women of color are more likely to report career advancements. The survey finds that 32% of women in the 18-34 age group say their career has advanced in the last year vs. 19% of those in the 35-64 age group and just 7% of those 65 and older.

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Lastly, 28% of Hispanic women, 28% of Asian women and 26% of Black women say their career advanced in the last year vs. 16% of white women and 15% of women of other races, the survey adds.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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