When you hear the word “ambition,” what do you think of? It probably brings to mind images of unstoppable determination, a fierce drive, and the hunger to achieve big things. 

Ambition is seen as a great quality, something that pushes people to aim high and go after their dreams. But if we stop and picture ambitious individuals, how often do we imagine women in that role?

The truth is that society has taught us to associate ambition more with men, suggesting that women belong more in supporting roles than in leadership positions or chasing big goals. Despite all the progress we’ve made towards gender equality, this idea still persists, clouding our perceptions of ambitious women.

For example, think of women like Arianna Huffington, who co-founded the Huffington Post, a major news website, or Oprah Winfrey, whose ambition and determination propelled her from a challenging upbringing to become a media mogul and philanthropist. 

These women, among countless others, defy the stereotype that ambition is solely a male trait. Yet, despite their remarkable achievements, the stigma surrounding ambitious women remains in our society. 

For example, people will say ambitious women are too pushy or don’t have their priorities straight.  But when is the last time you heard people say that about an ambitious man?

For accountant moms, aiming high can feel like tiptoeing through a minefield of expectations and stereotypes. While accounting might seem like a man’s world, plenty of women are becoming an even bigger part of it. 

Yet, even now, the idea of ambitious women, especially mothers, faces skepticism, making us second-guess our own dreams.

Many accountant moms battle with the worry that if they show too much ambition, they’ll be seen as pushy or neglectful of their families. It’s not just a silly fear; society has drilled into us that women should put family above everything, even their careers. 

This pressure to fit in can make us hide our dreams or tone down our drive to avoid judgment.

But here’s the thing – ambition isn’t a male or female thing; it’s a human thing. We deserve the chance to chase our dreams just like anyone else. 

We deserve to shake off the old stereotypes and proudly own our ambitions, no apologies needed.

It’s time to challenge these outdated notions and recognize that ambition knows no gender—it’s a quality that resides in all of us, waiting to be unleashed and celebrated if that’s what we want.  In other words, we shouldn’t have to set small, acceptable goals; we should give ourselves permission to go after whatever we want.

This week I’m going to discuss why we have a double standard and normalizing ambition.


Why we have a double standard

It’s interesting that it seems like there are two different rulebooks when it comes to ambition. For men, being ambitious is often seen as a good thing—it’s like a badge of honor. They’re encouraged to aim high, go after their goals, and make their mark on the world. 

But for women, it’s a different story. When we show the same drive and determination, we can be seen as too pushy or aggressive. 

It’s like we’re expected to hold back and stay in our lane, while men are applauded for reaching for the stars. This double standard isn’t just unfair; it’s holding ambitious women back from fully realizing their potential.

But where does this double standard come from? Historically, it’s as if we’ve had these unwritten rules about what men and women are supposed to do. 

For centuries, society has categorized women as caregivers and homemakers while telling men to conquer the world. It’s like we’ve been following these old scripts without even realizing it.

And those scripts have been reinforced over and over again by the media, in movies, TV shows, and even in the books we read. Women are often shown as being caring and nurturing, while men are seen as ambitious and go-getters. 

The truth is that we’ve been fed these stereotypes our whole lives, and they’ve become so ingrained that we don’t even question them.  For example, I’ll never forget my well-meaning mother telling me when I was younger, “Boys don’t like it when you beat them.”

She obviously meant well based on her own upbringing, but if it weren’t for the fact that I was so stubborn, I would have really taken what she said to heart and played small.  The funny thing is, it actually made me want to “beat the boys” in school whenever and in whatever way I could.

But for many women, this stubbornness is not something that comes naturally.  Plus, there are all these other barriers that we have to deal with, like not being taken seriously in male-dominated fields or getting paid less for the same work as men. 

It’s like we’re fighting against this invisible force that’s holding us back from reaching our full potential.

So, when we talk about the double standard around ambition, it’s not just about how we see ourselves—it’s about the messages we’ve been fed since we were kids and the obstacles we face every day. 

There’s also the fear of backlash where you have big dreams but feel like you have to hold back because you’re scared of what people might say. That’s the reality for many of us. 

We worry that if we go after our goals too hard, we’ll be judged as neglecting our families. It’s a tough spot to be in, and often stops us from going after what we really want. 

This fear of backlash can be paralyzing, causing us to second-guess ourselves and hesitate to take the next step toward our ambitions. And it’s not just about facing external criticism; it’s also about the internal struggle of balancing career goals with our family responsibilities.

Think about it: if society keeps telling you that you should put your family first and not worry too much about your own ambitions, it’s going to mess with your head.  When this happens, you might start doubting yourself and downplaying your achievements, even when you’ve worked really hard for them. 

It’s like we’re stuck between wanting to go after our dreams and feeling like we have to fit into this narrow idea of what a mom should be.  Unfortunately, that can really take a toll on our confidence and how we see ourselves. 

This constant pressure to conform to traditional gender roles can make it difficult for us to fully embrace our ambitions and pursue our dreams without feeling guilty or ashamed.  So what can we do for ourselves, our daughters, and future generations of women?


Normalizing ambition


I believe we need to encourage ourselves and other women to see ambition as a good thing that helps us grow and feel fulfilled, instead of something to hide or be embarrassed about.

We need to stop seeing ambition as a dirty word. It’s not something to be ashamed of or to hide away. In fact, it’s pretty amazing.  

Ambition is what pushes us to set goals, challenge ourselves, and become the best version of ourselves. It’s time we started embracing our ambition and wearing it like a badge of honor. 

For example, whether you’re aiming for a promotion at work or starting your own business on the side, your ambition is something to be celebrated, not hidden away.

So how do we do that?  I believe it starts with creating supportive spaces.  We need to build communities, like what we have with CPA MOMS, where accountant moms can come together, share their goals and dreams, and lift each other up.

I’ve said it many times on this podcast – it may take a village to raise a child but it also takes a village to support the mother raising that child.  I also want to add that it takes a village to support a working mom who’s chasing her dreams. 

That’s why it’s so important for you to find your tribe—the people who get what you’re going through and can offer support and encouragement along the way. Whether it’s a local moms’ group, an online Facebook community like the one we have, or just a few close friends who have your back, having a supportive network can make all the difference when it comes to chasing your ambitions. 

Don’t be afraid to reach out, connect with other accountant moms, and build your village.

I also think it’s important that we champion fellow ambitious women instead of feeding into what society says about them.  We need to cheer each ambitious woman and celebrate their successes because when one of us wins, we all win.

Here’s the thing: when we lift each other up, amazing things happen. There are far too many people wanting to knock down the ambitious younger generation, like the Taylor Swifts of this world, and the older generation, like the Martha Stewarts of this world.

We need to recognize our own biases and celebrate any woman who’s willing to push the envelope and deal with the backlash.  We need to show ourselves and our daughters that we don’t need to allow people to hold us back, and we certainly don’t need permission to go after what we want.

So, let’s make a pact to be each other’s biggest cheerleaders. Whether it’s congratulating a colleague on a job well done or mentoring a fellow mom who’s just starting out in her career, let’s celebrate each other’s achievements and support each other’s ambitions. 

Because when one of us succeeds, it paves the way for others to do the same. And that’s how we create a culture of empowerment and solidarity—one where every accountant mom feels supported, valued, and encouraged to reach for the stars.




The truth is that society has taught us to associate ambition more with men, suggesting that women belong more in supporting roles than in leadership positions or chasing big goals.

It’s time to challenge these outdated notions and recognize that ambition knows no gender—it’s a quality that resides in all of us, waiting to be unleashed and celebrated if that’s what we want.