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The Ambition Interviews: You Go, Girl!

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The Atlantic has debuted The Ambition Interviews, a fascinating– relatable– new series that explores the diverging paths of women’s ambitions after they leave college through first person accounts. The series of resulting essays paints a picture of the variety of paths taken by nearly 40 women from the same sorority who graduated from Northwestern in 1993; women who by all measures had the means, smarts, etc. to “make it.”

Nearly 25 years after they graduated, the group breaks roughly into thirds: one group of women who prioritized career, and to do so had their partners take on more of the childcare; a second group who balanced work and family, and as a result always feels the struggle; and a third who were mostly stay at home moms.  

The authors’ most striking finding: Every woman in the group followed a near-identical trajectory up until the point she had her first child.

The women of this study are not by any means a representative sample of America, and, in particular it’s worth noting that the group is not racially diverse. What makes this group interesting is not that it tells a complete story of women in America, but that it tells the story of a group of women who– according to conventional wisdom, for better or worse — were in a position to rise to the highest echelons of any industry. Why some did (and why many didn’t) reveals much about what stands in the way of greater gender equality in the workplace today. Here are the links to each essay, chronicling a variety of experiences:  

  1. Introduction

  2. Having It All—and Hating It

  3. When Women Choose Children Over a Career

  4. Rethinking What Success Looks Like

  5. How Much Ambition Can a Marriage Sustain?

  6. Beyond Maternity Leave

  7. The Sexism They Faced

The women behind the series, Hana Schank and Elizabeth Wallace, would be great figureheads to discuss the thinking behind the series and what it means on the heels of Hillary Clinton’s loss as women across the country look to an uncertain future.

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