You don’t have to be a major movie junkie to know the name Reese Witherspoon. Over the course of her career, she has starred in countless notable movies and has truly made a name for herself through her work in the film industry and beyond. Whether your favorite Reese role was Legally Blonde, Sweet Home Alabama, Wild, or another one of her film appearances, one can say without a doubt that Reese Witherspoon is a talented actress as well as a positive role model for career-driven women.
In terms of the latter characteristic, Reese recently made her mark on the world in an even greater way. In a speech that she presented at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards which took place on November 9th, she discussed the meaning of the word “ambition” in our society and the cultural implications that this word embodies when applied to women. She used her air time at this awards show to draw attention to a very important issue: that women are not fully accessing the leadership positions that they deserve and that female empowerment in the working world needs more recognition.
She begins by explaining that, “I think we are in a cultural crisis, in every field and every industry women are underrepresented and underpaid in leadership positions…Under 5% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women. Only 19% of Congress is women.” Underrepresentation of women in leadership roles is a very real issue in our society. Unfortunately, it is also a vicious cycle – a lack of examples of women in positions of power can discourage future female leaders of the world from fulfilling their goals to their fullest potential.
Witherspoon also poses some very poignant and thought-provoking questions to emphasize the gravity of this issue, such as, “What is it in your life that you think you cannot accomplish? Or what is it that people have said that you cannot do? Wouldn’t it feel really good to prove them all wrong?” I’m sure a lot of women can relate to this feeling, and there is nothing quite like achieving something that you or others doubted you could do. It is crucial for women to recognize their talents and to not let perceived limitations or social circumstances hold them back from pursuing their goals. Reese Witherspoon emphasizes in her speech that what the members of society so desperately need is a change of mindset – if we collectively believe that women can accomplish just as much as men and deserve the same amount of acknowledgment, then gender equality can become less of an idealistic goal and more of a concrete reality.
Witherspoon ultimately concludes her speech with a powerful and motivating statement: “I believe ambition is not a dirty word. It’s just believing in yourself and your abilities. Imagine this: what would happen if we were all brave enough to believe in our own ability? To be a little bit more ambitious? I think the world would change.” Personally, I could not agree more. Never give up on your dreams ladies, and be proud of your ambition.