Since our evening with Jane is tonight, we thought we’d share a blog post with you, to get you thinking.

 

Ambition is no longer the kiss of death for women’s careers. 

Just ask Sheryl Sandberg and the 1 million people who bought her book, “Lean In.” Sandberg should be roundly applauded for creating greater awareness of women’s work challenges, and for encouraging more conversation to emerge. But it’s important to realize the limitations of her message, which doesn’t translate in China, as Quartz recently reported, and in other Asian cultures as well. 

Here’s why:

Words, often the simplest ones, across cultures create confusion. For the Lean In movement, “ambition” and “family” are at the root of the cultural disconnect. 

Having facilitated many (predominantly female) workshops for multicultural and multi-generational teams across Asia, I can tell you that when the question of ambition comes up, which it often does, most participants felt the word and subsequent definitions to be blunt, boorish, and not reflective of their professional aspirations.

To ask, “How ambitious are you?” in Asia is fascinating. In China, women are more comfortable speaking about their ambitions than women in Japan, Hong Kong or Singapore, where the question is often met with silence or a detached shrug. For many women I encountered in Korea and Vietnam, ambition does not square with leadership, and instead has more negative than positive connotations. Being seen as “ambitious” still conjures a pejorative image for women.

Read the rest, here.

jane

Join us at our event, tonight.

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