Copy

What Motivates High-Achieving Women?

 
Joan Michelson1, William Aflleje2, and I used the Reiss Motivation Profile® for Business to assess the basic desires that characterize high-achieving women. We predicted that women who stated they were focused mostly on professional achievement would score significantly higher on the RMP Power scale as compared to women who indicated they were focused mostly on other priorities.
 
Subjects
The subjects were 66 adult women who responded to our invitation to complete a survey about what is important to them. Survey invitations were posted on a variety of social media that drew respondents from diverse sources such as alumnae of women’s colleges, women who had participated in a university engineering project, listeners to podcasts on the environment, readers of Forbes blogs, and women who were followers of the first author on Linkedin and Twitter. The mean age of the subjects was 48. Fifty-seven of the respondents listed the United States as their country of residence; the other nine subjects were from Australia, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Malaysia, Romania, Singapore, and Sweden.
 
Procedure
Each subject completed the RMP for Business anonymously and then answered this forced-choice question:
 
I view myself as:
______focused mostly on priorities other than professional achievement.
 
______focused mostly on being high achieving in my professional career.
 
Results
Thirty-four subjects answered “focused mostly on priorities other than professional achievement,” while 32 respondents chose “focused mostly on being high achieving in my professional career.”  
 
Two statistical tests were used to compare the mean scores of the two groups on each of the 16 basic desires assessed by the RMP: the t-test and the Wilcoxon Signed-Rank test. The t-test assumes that RMP scores are normally distributed, which is the assumption made by Professor Steven Reiss, and the Wilcoxon is an alternative test used when there may be some uncertainty about how scores are distributed.  
 
Compared to women in the “other-focused” group, women in the “career-focused” group scored significantly higher, on average, on the basic desire for Power (p < .03 on both the t-test and the Wilcoxon). This finding confirmed our prediction, thus providing evidence for the criterion validity of the RMP Power scale.
 
Status was the motive that most strongly discriminated the two groups. The “career-focused” women’s average score for Status was more than six points higher than the average score for the “other-focused” women (p < 0.003  on the t-test and p < .002 on the Wilcoxon).  
 
The motive of Curiosity also discriminated the two groups, with the “career-focused” women scoring significantly higher, on average, than the “other-focused” women (p < .03 on the t-test and p < .04 on the Wilcoxon).  
 
There were no statistically significant differences between the means of the two groups on the other 13 basic desires assessed by the RMP. 
 
Discussion
The RMP Power scale is defined as the desire for influence of will. This motive drives hard work, determination, the need for achievement, and the desire for leadership. People with high scores on Power value competence, productivity, and excellence. They seek challenges, work long hours to accomplish their goals, and may assume leadership roles. In short, the Power scale assesses how much an individual values achievement. It was predicted, therefore, that women who stated they are focused mostly on being high achieving in their professional careers would score significantly higher on the basic desire for Power, as compared to women who indicated they are focused mostly on other priorities, a prediction that was confirmed.
 
The RMP Status scale is defined as the desire for respect based on social standing. It motivates people to value wealth, fame, and prestige. People with high scores on Status like to feel important. They often embrace materialistic values and thus are motivated to acquire symbols of wealth. Some place great value on their reputation, and some choose a profession based on its perceived level of prestige. Given that an individual’s professional role often determines his or her social standing, it is not surprising that the “career-focused” women scored significantly higher for Status than did the “other-focused” women.
 
The RMP Curiosity scale is defined as the desire for understanding. People with high scores on Curiosity value theoretical knowledge and ideas. They embrace intellectual pursuits, like to analyze complex issues, and generally enjoy a wide range of intellectual interests. In short, they like to think. Advancement within a profession typically provides greater opportunity to engage in analytical thinking and problem solving. Thus, it makes sense that women who are focused mostly on being high achieving in their professional career would score significantly higher for Curiosity, as compared to women who are focused mostly on other priorities.
 
Interestingly, the “career-focused” and “other-focused” women were equally self-confident, as indicated by the lack of a significant difference between the means of the two groups on the RMP Acceptance scale. This suggests that women who are focused mostly on priorities other than professional achievement did not choose this path because of a fear of failure.
 
Another interesting finding is that the average means for the two groups were not statistically different for the RMP Family scale, which is defined as the desire to raise children and spend time with siblings. This suggests that the “career-focused” women and the “other-focused” women place similar value on parenthood.
 
Conclusions
  • The data provided evidence for the criterion validity of the RMP Power scale.
  • The findings demonstrated support for the utility of the RMP in evaluating motivational differences between groups of individuals who report they are focused on different life goals. 
  • We believe it would be intriguing to use the RMP to assess the basic desires that characterize high-achieving men. This would permit an analysis of whether or not gender differences exist in the motives of individuals who are focused mostly on professional achievement.
 
Maggi M. Reiss, M.A.
President, IDS Publishing Corporation
 
1 Joan Michelson, MBA, CEO, Green Connections Media, Career Coach, Podcaster, & Forbes Contributor
2 William Aflleje, M.S., Statistician, Reesh LLC 
 
 
© Copyright 2020.  IDS Publishing Corporation.  All rights reserved.
 
 
LinkedIn
Copyright © 2020 IDS Publishing Corporation, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.