Women and the Glass Ceiling

Published 30 Jun 2017

The term glass ceiling actually pertains to the situations in which the advancement of an individual within the hierarchy of the organization is constrained. The constraint is usually based on some form of discrimination such as prejudice or racial discrimination. It is referred to as a ceiling because the constraint blocks one’s rise in the ranks. The word glass has been appended to illustrate transparency which means that the constraint is not immediately noticeable and is likewise not written or stipulated in the policies of the organization. The glass ceiling is set apart from the other barriers to advancements such as requirements concerning education or experience.

The analogy of the glass ceiling was employed to demonstrate the alleged condition that enables women and minorities to achieve only minor positions and keeps them from advancing to the top positions in the highest levels of the corporate world. For most people, the issue of the glass ceiling is an extension and an evidence of gender and racial discrimination and as such, should be counteracted by the implementation of affirmative action laws. Indeed, the phrase glass ceiling is frequently used in reference to the access of women to upper management; this is likewise extended to other groups such as racial or ethnic minorities or based on the age of the individual.

Women are actually overlooked or by-passed when considering employees for the top management positions because of the fact that occupying these top positions entails either forsaking or subordinating almost all aspects of life in favor of one’s career. The level of responsibility as well as the finances would require people in top positions to input an average of seventy to eighty hours a week, demanding for their complete attention and dedication to overseeing the needs and operations of the business that they are handling. As a result, this means less time available to spend with one’s family, social life, and recreation or relaxation. At this point, one may be able to recognize that in the current societies, more men than women are willing to commit themselves in these circumstances and to respond to the demands of the corporate environment because women have other domestic responsibilities and matters to attend to such as taking care of their growing children and others. It is also common among societies all over the world that the husbands are the ones who work full-time while the wives work only part-time so they can attend to domestic matters. In addition to this, women also have higher likelihoods of mood swings and absenteeism due to pregnancy, dysmenorrhea, and other reasons than their male counterparts.
In this case, there is apparently a glass ceiling for females in the corporate world. However, the bases cited above mean that the ceiling is not there solely as a result of gender discrimination but also a result of the differences in priorities set by the males from the females. This glass ceiling may be alleviated or eradicated if women are willing to sacrifice more time and their families in favor of climbing up the corporate ladder.

Another good example of this is in the medical or health field, nursing used to be a predominantly female profession but now there is a constant rise in the number of male nurses. Prejudice and women’s rights advocates argue that this is a case of glass ceiling or gender bias. However, a closer look and research would reveal that many of the female nurses especially those who are married or who have families actually prefer part-time positions voluntarily over full-time positions. The reason for this is that they want to spend more time at home, attending to their husbands and being there to watch their children grow and not wanting to miss the early years and rapid changes. For some female nurses including those who are single, they also prefer to have more free time to either relax or engage in activities that they enjoy doing. This indicates that glass ceiling has been forged as a consequence of voluntary choices on the part of the women and not only because of prejudice.

In the same manner, most women who are working could actually afford to forego or put their high-powered business careers on second priorities in favor of the advantages that a flexible working schedule could offer them.

Women who have husbands and children prefer to invest a greater fraction of their time and effort in raising their families and attending to their homes while those who are unattached or uncommitted have tendencies to seek more time and opportunities for non-monetary personal development.

As a result of these voluntary choices and preferences of women, they work fewer hours than their male counterparts which mean less job experiences. In addition, women also tend to avoid work positions that are risky or unpleasant; these jobs are actually the high-paying jobs. These are the reasons why women are said to get less pay in work than men: because they work less hours, have less job experiences, and prefer less risky jobs.

Companies that cultivate a negative outlook around promoting women to higher level positions also risk the repercussions of dwindling profits. For one, there is the tendency to overlook the capacity of women and as such, the company misses out on a good employee that could have been indispensable and valuable to the company’s success. Another possible reason for this is that when other people hear about this, there is a tendency for them not to support the company anymore in its endeavors because they are turned off by the company’s treatment of their women employees.


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  • Scott, M. (2001). For women, the glass ceiling persists – employment discrimination against minority women executives.” Find Articles. Retrieved March 24, 2009
  • Toussaint, J. “The glass ceiling.” Feminism and Women’s Studies
  • Weiss, A. (1999). The Glass Ceiling. USA: 21st Century.
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