Is Glass Ceiling For Women a Myth?

First appeared on Technorati:

Glass Ceiling for womenLast Thursday I attended a conference sponsored by the US Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, and the Women Labor Bureau. The conference theme was: Flexibility at the workplace.

Among the subjects discussed was the ability and capability of women in general to get to the C Suite positions and the barriers in the way, including lack of flexibility of working conditions

The topic reminded me of research I had done a couple of months ago about the percentage of women in the C suite compared to their male colleagues, as well as their presence and voices in board member and executive positions

Granted, the last few years have seen a bit of progress by women in the workforce, like in the Supreme Court of the United States, where in 220 years, only four women have served as justices, two of them nominated on the last two years by President Obama: Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

We have seen for the first time a female presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, and a female vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin (regardless of any political affiliations), as well as an increased number in female governors, both candidates and elected governors in the 2011 electoral race; Letitia “Tish” Long became the first woman to head a major intelligence agency. But we have also seen a standstill in the female leadership in 2010, as for every woman who was promoted to a C suite position, another was lost, according to Fortune magazine

We have also seen debates that were mostly negative around the placement of both female justices doubting their objectiveness; as well as the sexist remarks made about both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin on the way they dressed, hair styles, how they looked, need of plastic surgeries, etc.

Statistics from the US Department of Education in 2009 show women at 57% of the students on college campuses and comprising around 60% of master’s degree recipients, as well as doctoral degrees awarded to more women than men. Nearly half of the US workforce is female, so logic dictates that there should be roughly 230 female CEOs, but reality numbers show that less than 10% of executives in large publicly traded firms are women, 12 female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies; only 6% of the most highly paid executives with titles such as chairman, chief executive officer, president and COO are women; only 15% sit on the board of directors; furthermore 12% of large companies don’t have a single woman on their boards (Korn/Ferry International).

These phenomena, accompanied by the fact that females working full time earn 81% of every dollar earned by men, have been going on forever and were dubbed by the Wall Street Journal as the “Glass Ceiling” that depicts limitations faced by women and minorities to advance into senior positions in corporate organizations. (We are only discussing factors affecting women in this post.)

In 1991, Senator Robert Dole Introduced the “Glass Ceiling Act” that was signed into a law as an amendment to Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The Act established a commission to investigate if a Glass Ceiling existed or not, and if it did, to identify the barriers to placing more women and minorities into senior positions.

The commission found that, though CEOs understood the need to include women and minorities in the ranks of senior management, this belief was not shared at all levels of the organizations

The study also found 3 main barriers contributing to the Glass Ceiling causes:
1- Societal: Limited educational opportunities and bias against women and minorities
2- Internal Structural: Corporate practices; management shortcomings like outreach, recruiting and retaining female and minorities talents. Organizational Cultures that exclude women and minorities to participate in activities that will lead to advancement such as career development assignments, mentoring and management training
3- Governmental: Inconsistent enforcement of Equal Opportunity Employment laws, and poor collection and distribution of reports and statistics that showcase the problems

Audits are been conducted regularly by the commission to monitor the progress made in solving the Glass Ceiling.

So is the Glass Ceiling for women a myth or not?

Diversity starts at home.


Sahar Andrade
Diversity Consultant – Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC.
(818)861 9434

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Contact me: Skype/ saharconsulting


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