Canadian female entrepreneurs and corporate workers are divided when it comes to career ambition. Approximately half agree they would describe themselves as ambitious in their career (51%), finds research by American Express Canada and Women of Influence. Among corporate workers, even fewer believe it is achievable to reach the c-suite (32%), and less than a third (28%) aspire to it.

Read: How much do Canada’s top CEOs get paid?

The research further suggests Canadian female entrepreneurs and corporate workers believe they have the skills it takes to be a successful leader. So why aren’t more corporate women aspiring to the c-suite?

Lack of a mentor

Perhaps one reason is that many Canadian women are lacking a mentor. In fact, mentorship and sponsorship are still rare among female entrepreneurs and corporate workers (with only 27% having a mentor and 8% a sponsor).

However, corporate workers with a sponsor are almost twice as likely to believe reaching the c-suite is achievable (61% vs. 32% overall). Having a champion was also found to have a big impact on confidence, as female corporate workers with mentors and sponsors are significantly more likely to consider themselves as high potential employees (70% overall compared to 86% with a mentor and 89% with a sponsor).

Read: More women than men becoming billionaires: report

Women with mentors or sponsors credit them with encouraging them to go after opportunities (47%), offering unbiased career advice (37%), expanding their network (28%), advocating on their behalf for job opportunities (28%), giving unbiased personal/family advice (28%) and providing access to new opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be possible (27%).

Read: Answers from forty(ish)-year-old female clients

Here are some additional findings.

  • 67% agree their definition of career success has changed since they first started working; 72% now define success as “loving what they do,” compared to 45% who say “meeting their financial goals”;
  • 17% of female corporate workers have turned down a promotion;
  • 73% of women surveyed are primary breadwinners or contribute equally to the household income;
  • nearly half agree that they take on more household responsibilities than their partner, or evenly share household responsibilities (31%); and
  • 47% agree they’ve made sacrifices in their own career to benefit their partner/family, compared to 24% who agree their spouse made sacrifices to benefit their family and/or career.

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