Having “it all” is a concept working women have aspired to for nearly 40 years and is a conversation women continue to have.
A recent study with Dr. Emily Balcetis, New York University associate professor of psychology, asked women to define their ideal life as part of the ItAll social experiment.
The experience explored how women answered questions alone versus in the presence of other women in their lives. The results showed that women help each other set a higher bar for themselves. In fact, 89 percent of women set more ambitious goals in the presence of other women.
Despite societal stereotypes that suggest female relationships encourage anxiety, pressure and judgment, this experiment determined that women have a positive impact on other women as an engine for ambition.
“We rarely talk about the positive power of female relationships that we saw firsthand in the ItAll experiment,” Balcetis said. “Women can encourage each other to shoot for more where it matters most, rather than working to accomplish something less fulfilling only because society says they should. Women have a truly unique way of inspiring each other to reach their own greatest potential.”
Balcetis offers these tips, which were observed during the ItAll social experiment, to support women aspiring to be the best versions of themselves:
Be a Role Model
A role model can set standards for an aspiring woman to work toward while proving that certain goals are, in fact, attainable.
Take stock of the women in your life, including family, friends and social and professional acquaintances. Consider where you may be able to lend support or nudge someone into higher aspirations. It may mean encouraging someone to set or achieve a certain goal, or it may mean challenging someone to take a leap, like applying for a challenging new position.
For example, the ItAll experiment first surveyed female participants individually then allowed them to express their aspirations in the presence of familiar, influential women in their lives. Life choices became less conservative when others were involved. For example, participants declared a desire for higher salaries, chose to work more hours, wanted to spend more time with friends and be more involved with children.
Start a Conversation
It’s been said that variety is the spice of life, and no place is that truer than among women working to define their own ambitions. Engage with women from different backgrounds and start important conversations that may open your eyes to unique experiences or viewpoints you hadn’t previously considered. Arming yourself with that kind of knowledge can help make your own path clearer and encourage others to be a positive force for change.