Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Are women still banging their heads against the glass ceiling?

The term "glass ceiling" was coined more than twenty years ago by The Wall Street Journal to describe the barriers that women face in the workplace. The word "ceiling" suggests that women are blocked from advancing in their careers, and the term "glass" is used because the ceiling is not always discernable.

Glass ceilings are still found in workplaces, not only in the discrimination of pay scales, but is also marked by sexual harassment, exploitation at work and also as a feeling of insecurity in women due to conduct of the opposite sex. Women struggle to incarnate their own personality in spite of restriction of gender discrimination. A workplace should consider the ability of an individual and not the issues of ‘glass ceiling’ based on sex, religion, culture and race of minority class.

But, to the contrary, some studies on this issue have concluded that women are actually to blame for the "glass ceiling" They cite responses that indicate that women underestimate their own performance, suggesting a lack of confidence in the workplace, therefore creating the glass ceiling themselves. But, at no time did the study question why they underestimated their own performances, leaving the possibility that the "glass ceiling" itself could be the reason.

Perhaps it could be the absence of role models at the highest executive levels, considering only 2.6 percent of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are female. Another recent study could shed light on the reasons women underestimate their workplace performance – that study showed that employers consider fathers to be “more competent and committed” than their childless counterparts but mothers are 100 percent less likely to be hired, offered $11,000 less in pay, and ranked as “less competent and less committed” than non-mothers. Not to mention that other workplace barriers such as pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and pay discrimination could lead to decreased self confidence.

During this time of economic desperation, women should be given equal chances to succeed and accomplish their goals in the workforce without undue discrimination.Law requires the workplace to be free from discrimination and judgment when it comes to hiring and advancement. The world is changing, and it is time for the workplace to make a final turn toward equality among workers, both male and female.


  1. Amazing this kind of discrimination is still so blatantly going on. With all the efforts made by women in the past 40 years to counteract it, you'd hope it would've disappeared by now.

  2. Thanks for the comments. You are so right. I guess it takes a long time to turn a "wrong" around and make it "right".

  3. Our position at sphinxx is that it's time for quotas. Women haave been politely taking on board the feedback about the experience, expertise and networking they need to do to get into the top jobs for decades now...to little effect. Discrimination still reigns. Macchiavelli said all those years ago that those with the power will never voluntarily give it up. So why would the men who dominate business step aside for women? We know that organisations with more women in leadership roles produce financial results up to 35% stronger - so why don't the shareholders insist on diversity? Because the Institutional Investors are dominated by men at the top who are threatened by the idea of diminishing their power. Organisations have also spent millions on womens programs in the past...again with little result. Targets won't do it; we need quotas like Norway to force the shift. And like Norway, we'll find that there are in fact plenty of women qualified for board and executive positions. And we'll also see that getting more women into leadership roles encourages more women to get there too. www.sphinxx.com.au

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