Women since birth are beheld as substandard to men. As a culture we tag babies by the colour of their quilts when they are born. Boys are given blue and girls are given pink covers. This from the time of initiation of their lives, splits the two genders. As boys grow, they are given action figures and are trained to play rough sports, and girls are given dollies and are trained to play “nice”. These variances linger to root a slit, not physically but rather socially and mentally, amongst the two genders.
The glass ceiling is generally defined as the imperceptible, artificial blockades that thwart capable individuals from evolving within their organization and attaining their full potential, exclusively in the management positions and the policymaking process. This “glass ceiling” has seized the opportunity for women, universally, to be able to reach certain positions in the workplace for centuries. Women are often labelled (to put it subtly) as “part-time”, “lower- grade workers with limited opportunities for training and advancement” and are habitually pilloried because of this glass ceiling. The main question that is often posed to typically just the female demographic, which honestly just perplexes and distresses me because of how oblivious and impervious the social order is towards women even after recurrent declarations over the same matter time and again, is whether this glass ceiling effect on women is a reality or just a mere illusion?
To be fully candid, the fact that this question is being hurled left and right, in this day and age where almost every other women is coming forth and stating instances as to how the glass ceiling effect has impeded them from being successful during their entire course of employment, is a clear example of how much vexed this subject is in actuality when the public isn’t even keen on accepting its existence, even after constant, blatant declarations citing the same. What argument would suffice the masses to consider it as unruly, is beyond my grasp and knowledge.
The term “glass ceiling” was coined in 1984 by the editor of “Working Women” magazine, who held that “Women have reached a certain point –I call it the glass ceiling – in the top of middle management and they’re stopping and getting stuck”1. However, the official characterization of the term was announced in 1991 by the US Department of Labour. The glass ceiling was pronounced as “artificial barriers based on attitudinal or organizational bias
1 Boyd, 2012, p.1
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that prevent qualified individuals from advancing upward in their organization into management-level positions”2. A study of glass ceiling by Cotter et.al. (2001) hypothesize that the glass ceiling should not be cast-off to express all sorts of gender disparities in employment. He recommends a fourfold standard that offer assistance in structuring this phenomenon. First, the glass ceiling can be accredited if gender inequalities cannot be proved by other job-related features of employee such as education, experience or skills since these features are similar for female and male employees. Second, the glass ceiling can be implicit if the degree of gender inequalities at administration level is more advanced than such the degree for non-managerial and blue-collar positions. In case gender inequalities are the same at all different employment levels, a “common pattern of gender inequality”3 is detected rather than the glass ceiling. Third, the glass ceiling does not denote individually just to the existing shares of female and male congresses in the executive boards, but also to probable preferments within a specific time period. The authors explain that contemporary magnitudes chiefly replicate preceding conditions. For instance, if women resolve to leave professions more often than men due to anticipated meagre career prospects, inevitably more men will be in the executive board even if promotion rate were even. Fourth, the glass ceiling is strongly correlated to vocation trajectories. Gender inequality grows with occupation advancement – at higher career level women face more discrimination cases than at subordinate career levels. The concept of the glass ceiling has often been a victim of crucial criticism. The adversaries contend that in practice, the glass ceiling does not exist and women face career barriers due to their own selections such as childbearing or family errands over professional prospects. These decisions have an influence in disguise of lower remunerations and deferred career progressions. Thus, the institutional and operational mechanisms cannot be liable for gender inequalities at work.
While gender disparities are blatantly evident in emerging nations, states with progressive frugalities are branded with the impression of almost equal access to schooling and employment for women and men. In this milieu, the statistic that women are strappingly underrepresented in the senior executive administration establishes feasibly the finest proof of prevailing glass ceiling. Numerous international and national studies appear to undertake the glass ceiling issue, on the lookout for evidence of its existence in service sector.
2 Boyd, 2012, p.2
3 Cotter et.al., 2001, p.4
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Studies over the centuries have revealed that the glass ceiling really does exist and is not the product of just the imagination of women. Today, in the workplace women are still confronting fences such as gender stereotyping, intimidation, mistreatment, oppression and gender inequality at the hands of not only men but women too, giving rise to internalised sexism. The glass ceiling is a distinct and a significant system of discernment in the workplace that has been unambiguously accountable for holding women back from ascending to the top of the corporate ladder. As long as gender typing continues in the workplace, women will continually scuffle to disrupt the manacles that bind them with inequality. Women must endure the rivalry, even if it’s something they shouldn’t have to, in order to attest the fact that they can do the work just as virtuously and diligently with substantial outcomes as men. Establishments will need to learn to critic their workforces likewise on their peculiar merits and accomplishments, not on their gender. This will enable to generate a steady working atmosphere that will fetch pecuniary advantage to both the employee and the employer. Businesses need to fashion line-ups that diminish gender typecasting and endorse gratitude among all employees.
In conclusion, I would just like to reiterate that the concept of glass ceiling is not a fable, or a supposition created by pseudo-feminists. It is a well-established, unethical and sexist system in the workplace that women ubiquitously in the entire world are still struggling to disrupt. And, it is also important for women to understand, that to succeed in business, one must concede the glass ceiling, yet their goals and aspirations should not be limited by it. Instead, they must leave the “us against them” outlook behind and establish their goals beyond those of their forerunners. Women erudite that they have the supremacy to fashion their own prospects, and be noticed for it. As the number of women in administration continues to upsurge, more corporations may find that once they reach into their puddle for their ensuing executive, the finest person for the work may be a woman.
(To all the women out there) Until then let’s keep the fight within us thriving.
Written By – Garima Tripathi