The History And Breakdown Of The Glass Ceiling

2473 words - 10 pages

The History and Breakdown of the Glass Ceiling

The term the "glass ceiling" first came into use in 1986 when two Wall Street Journal reporters coined the phrase to describe the invisible barrier that blocks women from the top jobs in corporate America. (Glass Ceiling Commission,"Successful Initiatives "). Since then the metaphor has also been applied to the barriers of minorities. The Glass Ceiling Effect has been around for approximately 50 years. In my opinion it is on its way out the door. Corporate Officers and Senior Management are noticing the merits of women and minorities and doing something about it.

The glass ceiling, in its simplest form, is the theory that women and minorities do not advance into senior management or executive positions within corporate America. (Although recent trends have shown that select women and minorities have advanced into senior management.) It is a barrier that has been in place since women started redefining their roles in the family since World War II when their husbands were forced to leave the home and go fight in the war. At this time the wife went to work while the husband was at war to support the family. At the end of the war this new trend did not cease. Women received this era as a time of choice. Although the majority of women, at this time, chose not to continue working when the war ended, a percentage remained in the workforce. This change in the culture and structure was not accepted on a positive note. Women and minorities faced multiple barriers to promotions.

Up until 1964 there were no laws in place prohibiting or penalizing discrimination in the workplace. Then came along the Civil Rights Act of 1964. More specific in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the Title VII patterns and practices provision which established laws against the intent to discriminate. The 1964 Act prohibits employers, unions, and employment agencies from discriminating against job applicants and employees on the basis of race, sex, age, handicap, religion, or national origin. The law prohibits discrimination in hiring, firing, discipline, compensation, and other conditions of employment. (Reader's Digest, "Know Your Rights",1997). The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the backbone of efforts to eliminate employment discrimination. (Glass Ceiling Commission. "Enforcement Techniques", 1993). The Act allows victims of discrimination in the workplace to privately litigate claims. The Act started the advancement of women and minorities in the workplace. Until this point women were in the workforce steadily, but not advancing. Minorities were also present, but almost never in positions of visibility. Women and minorities in senior management were almost unheard of. Employers are now forced to review and revise policy and procedures for hiring and promoting within their respective companies. They are now accountable to the government and liable to the employee in the event of...

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