Glass Ceiling a word commonly heard off especially at the highest level of powers at workplace. The word originated, primarily to be used in context of women in a Wall Street Journal story in 1986. It is a metaphor referring to an invisible barrier which is subtle and transparent, yet so strong that it prevents women from moving up the corporate hierarchy.
In theory, nothing prevents women from rising as high as men. However, in practice, there are still barriers. Women can see the high-level corporate positions but are kept from "reaching the top".
Whether you talk about India or US, this barrier is seen everywhere in corporate world. But does this Glass ceiling at the workplace really exist? To me not exactly but yes, having not so much but enough to explain experience of the corporate world, I can confidently rephrase this word ‘Glass Ceiling’ as a ‘Career Labyrinth’ in which there are many factors affecting the rise of woman to be in the top notches of a company and finding the way out is almost impossible.
We have often heard headlines in various media channels and newspapers like “Women Gain Numbers, Respect in Board Rooms," "New Career Trend: She Goes, He Follows," "Women Entrepreneurs Have Come a Long Way,"Women are Liberating a Citadel of Male Power," and "You've Come a Long Way, Baby." But the irony is these headlines are cleverly misleading, bumping a woman into this ceiling.
A recent survey showed that US which is considered to be one of the most developed country has only 23% of women working in the top positions or middle management.
What are the factors leading to these bondages?
Different people have different opinions. People confirm that women have to take care of the family. They have to take maternity leaves and so somewhere they get behind in the race where every time one needs to fight a battle to get the highest spot. This kind of time lag can hamper the growth of company. But does it mean that the solution can never be provided or it can happen only when man start getting pregnant?Women are still the ones who interrupt their careers to handle work/family trade-offs. Sometimes their total roles can be counted equivalent to a three shift job continuous.
This can be one of the reasons for the difference but it’s neither the prime nor the top reason for the existence of barrier. If the stats are to be believed the truth is only three percent of women cited family responsibility as a reason but more than half said the reason is related to gender. There is resistance to female leadership’s, a lot of ego clashes, prejudiced behavior, male chauvinism and the fact of being a woman is one of the most important cause of slow advancement. Some believe that the biggest barrier to women in top management levels is because when deciding who to promote into management, male corporate leaders tend to select people as much like themselves as possible - so it is no surprise that women are frequently not even considered at promotion time. Women executives are frequently excluded from social activities Even on a more formal level, women report there are certain kinds of meetings they don't get invited to because they are not seen as policy makers. Men don’t take them seriously.In simple terms, Gender Discrimination Is Pervasive.
Sexual harassment remains a serious problem for women in the managerial ranks. But, satirically only a small percent of offenders lose their jobs or to be precise 4 in 5 are merely reprimanded. Emotionally it demoralizes a human being and creates a fear of safety and respect. Sexual Harassment is widespread.
Another side of this harassment is if a woman completes a job which a man is not able to,the reasoning given is they have given some favor or their jobs get completed easily because they are a woman. If a woman rises to the top and sits and faces the so called alpha males boldly it is said that she reached there because she has got and done so many “favors” though she is actually not capable of. Everywhere the abilities of women are under judged. These statements arise because men are not answerable for it.
I have still not experienced the power of being a boss but still I have experienced a number of times the statement that you got this done because you are a girl. Once while having a conversation with my friends on the same topic one of them commented that you girls get favors and we get our work done through smoking as they say “Important meetings and decisions happen only in the smoking zone.” I quite agitatedly told him that if ever I was left with only two choice, either to smoke or to get a favor or be sexually harassed by a look or a gossip I would prefer to smoke because it will affect me only physically but the emotional pain which I will get after following the second way will hurt me throughout my life.
It’s all about equality and we can really achieve it if one day we see the world’s 50% workplaces being managed by women and 50% home’s managed by men. One can name it differently; a glass ceiling or career labyrinth but the fact remains the same that there is still no way out of it. It’s a difficult and complex journey towards a goal worth striving for.
On an ending note for the entire phenomenal women only thing to break this glass ceiling or get out of this labyrinth is to dare; dare to dream and dare to fight.
And for all the men a message-
“Don’t judge women if you don’t know them,
Don’t underestimate women unless you challenge them
Don’t talk about women unless you have talked to them!”