International Women’s Day: Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling

todayMarch 8, 2022 119 4

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By Preethi Mangadu
Web Content Contributor

For many women, it is more difficult to climb up the career ladder than it is for men. This is due to the metaphorical barrier that higher-ups create which prevents women from being promoted and being compensated at an equal level, otherwise known as the “glass ceiling.”

The “glass ceiling” theory was coined by  Marilyn Loden, a managing consultant, in 1978 during a panel on women’s aspirations. In this panel, many of the panelists argued that it was the personal efforts of women that were keeping them back, but Loden argued that the major problem was a cultural barrier, hence the glass ceiling.

As a nation, the United States has become more progressive in the 21st century than it was in 1978. However, the problem is still prevalent. According to the Center for American Progress, “despite making up a majority of the U.S. population, women lag substantially behind men when it comes to their representation in leadership positions.”

A bar graph with blue bars going from left to right showcasing the percentage of women in leadership in the corporate and political spheres. The title “Women in Leadership” is above the graph. Below the graph, it says, “Source: Center for American Progress 2018.”
A bar graph showcasing the percentage of women in leadership in the corporate and political spheres.

Counterarguments claim that women are to blame for their inability to rise based on a culture of domesticity, the ideology that women are meant to be the emotionally available homemaker rather than the breadwinner. 

Today, many women do work, but the ideas of women being submissive, weak, too emotional, etc. are rooted in domesticity and contribute to the “glass ceiling.” 

While women are given more obstacles to gain power and be given equal pay, the “glass ceiling” can also affect their mental health. According to a 2019 study done by AbdulSattar Abulbaqi Al-Azzawi, Makarand Upadhyay, and Nishi Tyagi for the International Journal of Recent Technology and Engineering, the “glass ceiling” has negative effects on the stress levels, well-being, self-esteem, job satisfaction of women. 

There is no one strategy for women as individuals to combat the “glass ceiling.” Women may have to work twice as hard as their male counterparts to get ahead. 

Taking on higher-profile assignments, networking with higher-ups, speaking up more at meetings, etc. could all potentially help an individual break through the “glass ceiling,” but everyone’s journey will be unique.

Shattering the “glass ceiling” can only be done by corporate leaders in society. Employers can be proactive in their companies by making sure women are represented and treated fairly, having policies that foster gender equality, making sure to recruit all genders equally, etc. 

Employers are the leading charge, but their employees must also focus and foster an equal work environment. Marilyn Loden noted that employers must tell their employees, “You have a part to play in creating a culture of respect for everyone. You can’t be a bystander in this effort. Instead, you have to take action.”

Society as a whole has the power to shatter the “glass ceiling” as well. Being involved in activist organizations that promote gender equality and bring awareness to the issues can bring about real societal and political change. Communities can also help by supporting women-owned and women-run businesses which provide a workplace away from the “glass ceiling.”

Nonetheless, the “glass ceiling” is prevalent, and it may take years before employment reaches gender equality, but as a society, we can all try to have a hand in making the change. 

Featured Image by KTSW Multimedia

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