Where’s My Sledge Hammer?

I read the following blog yesterday, and it really bothered me.  Not the author, but the content.  It drives me crazy that this “glass ceiling” still exists and that we just can’t take a sledge hammer to it once and for all.

Still Behind

By Jessie States

Women don’t receive assistance in reaching their future career goals because they are typically in lower-status positions, according to a new study by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Indiana University South Bend.

“We have laws that prohibit discrimination and enforce equal pay, but that only touches the surface,” department chairwoman Gail McGuire said. “We need to look at informal professional structures, not formal ones. These are the real sources of inequality.”

McGuire studied one of the largest financial services organizations and evaluated its informal network support. The firm is a major employer of women, but they tend to be located in lower-status positions. The men, a minority in the organization, occupy higher-ranking positions.

“Since men have higher status positions, they are hoarding and monopolizing critical resources,” McGuire said. Women received more social support, especially from their female colleagues, than men, but, McGuire warns, this has less of a career pay-off for women in the long-term.

So men are “hoarding and monopolizing” all the resources, making it more difficult for women to have access to funding for education and professional development. What a world we live in.  Yes, it’s great that we have a social support group, but what good is a social support group for your career? Take control of your own career – you can’t rely on anyone else to do it for you.  Invest in yourself! (Thanks for the tip Dawn Rasmussen!) My self-investment? MPI, WEC and local Chapter educational programs.  I want to make sure that I keep up with the changes in the meetings/events industry – you never know what unexpected changes could come your way!

Yes, I see that I’ve lumped all “men” into one little group, and of course I realize that this is not par for the course for everyone.  But clearly the sting is still felt since we’re still studying the effects of men versus women in the professional world.  I work in the political arena, its typically a man’s world – I see the unfairness everyday.

Next, I Googled “Glass Ceiling” only to find this scary study on Wikipedia.

David R. Hekman and colleagues (2009) found that customers prefer white male employees, which is why such workers may continue to earn 25 percent more than equally-well performing women and minorities.[13] Hekman et al. (2009) found that customers who viewed videos featuring a black male, a white female, or a white male actor playing the role of an employee helping a customer were 19% more satisfied with the white male employee’s performance and also were more satisfied with the store’s cleanliness and appearance. This despite that all three actors performed identically, read the same script, and were in the exact same location with identical camera angles and lighting. Moreover, 45 percent of the customers were women and 41 percent were non-white, indicating that even women and minority customers prefer white men.

There is this glass ceiling, but according to that study, women themselves still prefer white men, so what the heck are we supposed to do about that?  How are women supposed to break through if we continue to see ourselves less than?  Or view men as doing a better job?

Did you know about these other related terms? (Thank you Wikipedia!)

  • Brass Ceiling – In the traditionally male-dominated fields of law enforcement and military service, some people use the term “brass ceiling” to describe the difficulty women have when they try to rise up in the ranks.[32] “The brass” denotes the decision-makers at the top of an organization, especially in the military; it is an example of synecdoche.
  • Stained-Glass Ceiling is a sociological phenomenon in religious communities similar to the concept of the “glass ceiling.” The concept revolves around the apparent difficulty for women who seek to gain a role within church leadership.
  • Bamboo Ceiling – The exclusion of Asian-descendants from executive and managerial roles on the basis of subjective factors such as “lack of leadership potential” or “inferior communication ability” where the East Asian-descendants candidate has superior objective credentials such as education in high-prestige universities (in comparison to their white counterparts with only lower-prestige university credentials).[33] For example, research shows that there are a decent number of partners at leading prestigious law firms in the United States who did not attend top notch law schools. However, you will seldom find an East Asian American partner of a leading law firm who did not attend a “Top 16 Law School” (according to the US News ranking).
  • Concrete Ceiling – This is a term used to describe the type of barrier minority woman encounter. Caucasian women may face the glass ceiling in the workforce, but be able to break through it from time to time; however, minority women’s glass ceiling tends to be more solid and unyielding. This ‘concrete ceiling’ is due to minority women facing both issues of sexism and racism which intensifies their obstructions in advancing within the labor market.[34]
  • Expatriate Glass Ceiling – After breaking through the first level of the glass ceiling, many women are beginning to face an additional barrier. This is a term used to describe this second level of obstruction which prevents women in managerial positions from receiving foreign management assignments, projects, and experiences that is becoming increasingly more important for promotion into the upper-level managerial positions as documented by Insch, McIntyre, and Napier.[35]
  • Glass Closet – The exclusion of openly gay men and women from certain jobs, especially in the media.
  • Glass elevator (or glass escalator) – Some believe there is a rapid promotion of men over women, especially into management, in female-dominated fields such as nursing.[citation needed]They say men in these fields are promoted with ease – they actually have to struggle not to advance due to facing invisible pressures and expectations to move up from where they currently are. This is based on traditional gender roles and stereotypes that men are expected to be in the chief roles, while women are to be in the subordinate positions. Therefore, in the fields where men are less common, they receive differential treatment that favors them to exert their authority and control in the workplace. Others believe that men in female-dominated professions are discriminated against and treated worse than women, the way women are treated in other professions.[36]
  • Glass cliff – A situation wherein someone has been promoted into a risky, difficult job where the chances of failure are higher.
  • Celluloid ceiling, referring to the small number of women in top positions in Hollywood, as documented by Lauzen (2002) and others.
  • Glass Labyrinth – referring to something related to a maze and can find the way out of and get through; otherwise thought of as finding a path through power in an organization.
  • Sticky Floor – refers to women who are trapped in low-wage, low mobility jobs in state and local government.[37]
  • Sticky Ladder – A term used to describe women’s struggle to reach the top of the corporate ladder. This term describes the theory that women are not incapable of reaching the top; they just get “stuck” on the middle rungs of the ladder.
  • Glass Floor – Many men have college degrees and would like to advance further in our culture, but due to a lack of opportunities and an increasingly woman-friendly workplace, including men in positions of power who would rather hire attractive young women and women in positions of power who would rather work with women, remain stuck in low-pay jobs with little chance of advancement, including blue-collar jobs that do not require higher education and “temp work,” which requires the work hours and stress of regular office employment, but with less pay and no benefits.[citation needed]
  • Glass Wall – Refers to the phenomenon of high rates of women advancing to executive positions but only in certain industries.[38]

The effect has also inspired a musical, bearing the same name. “Glass Ceiling” (2006), written by Bret VandenBos and Alex Krall, examined and parodied the idiosyncrasies of both males and females in the corporate workplace.[39]

My thoughts…

You want something, go get it. Make the effort to invest in yourself. Don’t let someone else stand in your way of fulfilling your dreams.  If someone stands in your way, and you allow them to do so, you’ll wind up regretting it.  If you are happy with your life and your career, it will show.  Respect yourself enough to know that those holding you back may not be your real friends – surround yourself with people who understand and support your dreams.  And you’ll find the path to your goal much smoother!


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