From the time women started working, they have been facing the challenge of breaking the glass ceiling in order to climb to the top of the corporate hierarchy. Although the glass ceiling is not as prominent as it was in the past, it is still very real, and it affects not only women but other minorities. Whether it is the ceiling, wall, elevator, or cage, the glass prevents women from advancing in their careers. It has existed from the beginning, and even with the help of equality laws, it still poses a problem today. However, thanks to several outstanding women, the glass has developed several cracks; the future appears brighter. It is a challenge, but it is not impossible: Women can break the glass and soar to the top!
The glass ceiling is a subtle barrier of discrimination that limits minorities from moving up the corporate ladder. There are other barriers referred to as glass walls or glass elevators that restrict women’s progress in only certain career fields (Mathis and Jackson 85). Although the glass barriers can affect all minorities, they are best known for stalling the success of women. As Ann Morrison—author and researcher—discovered through her “Executive Women Project”, the glass ceiling is not the prevention of one who cannot handle an executive-level position, but instead, the discrimination of women simply because of their gender (Morrison 13). Although there is clear evidence of the inequality between genders, some still believe that the glass ceiling is just a self-imposed barrier better referred to as a glass cage “held together by the misgivings [women] have about [their] ability to succeed and handle the demands of leadership” (Warrell). The idea of the glass cage is just another product of the glass ceiling and one more barrier that women have to face. The first step to breaking these barriers is to understand what causes them to exist.
There are numerous reasons behind the existence of the glass that span from the simple discrimination based solely off gender to the negative stereotype of women who choose their jobs over their children. At the beginning, the glass ceiling was mainly caused by the inequality between genders. Women were just starting to enter the workforce that was run completely by men, and the men thought that they were superior. However, after decades of enormous strides taken by women, this inequality has somewhat decreased. The reasons for the barrier today are built off those from the past but are more widespread. The Feminist Majority Foundation credits a main cause to the cycle of men holding the higher level positions and in turn hiring more men for those positions. This “Old-Boy Network” excludes women from important meetings and prevents them from earning promotions (“Empowering Women in Business: The Glass Ceiling”).
Although it would be easier for women to blame men for being the only reason behind the problems they face in career advancement, it would not be correct. In Lean In: Women, Work,...