Survey: Women with female role models set more ambitious goals

Before you can be who you want to become, it helps if you can see it. A new survey from Lean Cuisine and New York University psychology professor Emily Balcetis found that women raise the bar when they have female role models that they can emulate.

Women get more ambitious when they have ambitious women in their life

Someone believing in you can make all the difference. The survey had female role models accompany the participants as they chose life goals in an experiment. The survey found that 89% of women set more ambitious goals in the presence of other women they admire, and 77% chose bigger goals in the aspects of life they saw as most important.

Having a female role model was a physical, daily reminder of career ambition. The women chose higher salaries and longer hours at work when they were in the presence of a woman they admired.

“What was most compelling in this experiment was how women close to us can help to relieve the societal pressure to ‘have it all,’ and instead focus each other to achieve ‘her all,'” Balcetis said about the results. “We saw women helping other women identify their truest versions of themselves and encouraging them to strike for higher potential.”

This finding is consistent with other studies on the power of women having female role models. When women are in male-dominated fields, that woman mentor who they can confide in and commiserate with can be the difference between them staying or quitting. Women keep women in engineering, one study found. Female engineering students who had a female peer mentor in their major became more confident and were less likely to drop out.

When you know someone ahead of you has walked in your shoes, the long, hard path of your career becomes easier to walk.