“Don’t Play that Card” – The Glass Ceiling Remains

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Now before you roll your eyes and think, “boy, not another one of these,” read on to hear my take on how women fit into the corporate jigsaw.

It’s a familiar tune for minority groups – all racial, religious, gender minority groups are subject to these feelings and make it a mission to have a voice or change the status quo.   Just as The Colorblind Paradigm in their post “Black Lives Matter, In Reality” appropriately makes a case for the ongoing injustice and racial inequality targeted at young African-Americans. We are still a highly segregated people in an alleged desegregated community.

I’m not a self-proclaimed feminist in any aspect of the so controversial and often misunderstood word.  And sure, many argue that a woman’s role in the office has developed and improved leaps and bounds from what it was decades ago.  Nonetheless, we all know how the story goes:  Women hold back their career plans to spend more time caring for the children. They’re also inherently less ambitious than men obviously and don’t have the confidence that commands seats in the C-suite…

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.

Now let me paint some truth on the current status of the woman in the workplace. It’s a battle rink snapshot with a few pioneering women showing chutzpah from the one corner and in the other, the over-populated heavy-weight males can hardly fight their numbers in this lopsided ring – an unfair match before the match has even begun.

You’ll be surprised to hear that women aren’t cutting short their careers when children come along.  Contrary to popular belief, the role of motherhood increases their appetite for winning promotions.  Rather, research shows that even women without children cite stress and pressure as their main issue. This points to another possible explanation for the leadership ambition gap: The path to senior positions is disproportionately stressful for women.

Regardless of which angle you look at the situation, the bottom line still remains: women are underrepresented in the corporate world, face more barriers to promotion, and climb a steeper path to executive positions.  There are new findings from a new study, Women in the Workplace 2015, conducted by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. Here are the statistics:

  • Women’s representation in the pipeline at all levels is still dwarfed under that of men with 17% in the c-suite, 27% in VP roles, and 33% in manager positions.
  • While women in leadership are statistically more likely to stay with their company than their male counterparts, signs show that women are less likely to advance than men as expected representation of women at every level is 15% lower than that of men.
  • Mothers are 15% more interested in being a top executive than women without children, whoever even in households where both partners work full-time, 41 percent of women report doing more child care and 30 percent report doing more chores.

Considering the impressive innovation and corporate transformations that have come from women in top positions, statistics certainly haven’t budged enough in the last decade.  050293-glass-ceiling

As Sheryl Sandberg frankly remarked in a post published by the Wall Street Journal after reading the study, “At the current pace of progress, we are more than 100 years away from gender equality in the C-suite.  If NASA launched a person into space today, she could soar pastMars, travel all the way to Pluto and return to Earth 10 times before women occupy half of C-suite offices. Yes, we’re that far away.” Newsflash: the glass ceiling remains.Despite firm initiatives or corporate promises to consider further change to promote women equality in the office, the push in the right direction is moving at glacial speed.

The chief operating officer of Facebook Inc. and the founder of LeanIn.Org finished with a daring challenge: “We reached the moon in eight years of concerted effort—not 80. Let’s bring that same urgency to this mission.  We will achieve not just a stronger and more successful workplace, but also increased economic growth and benefits for all our workers and families.”

5 thoughts on ““Don’t Play that Card” – The Glass Ceiling Remains

  1. This is an incredibly engaging and well-written post! Like you, I don’t consider myself a feminist in the often misused sense of the word, but it should be hard for anyone to disagree that women deserve equal advancement opportunites in the workplace. I found myself nodding along in agreement as I read this post, from start to finish. I also appreciated that you used current statistics and quotes to back up your claims. It is important for people to realize how far we have to still go toward achieving workplace equality. We have come a long way in the past 50-60 years, but your post does a great job of removing the illusion of equality that many people assume exists today.

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    1. Your validation is well received and much appreciated! Both the racial and gender segregation are issues of equal magnitude and intersect at many crossroads. Moreover, they are both deeply rooted in our culture in the U.S. and around the world. Unfortunately, the deep roots mean that a gradual and hard-fought change will take time and certainly won’t come easily. It just comes down to what we can do in the meantime, no matter how small-scale, to show and inspire others for the need for change. Racial and gender biases play a role in how people communicate and ultimately how our society is shaped, generation after generation. My goal to find a place in the corporate executive office will be an uphill climb, but like you, I’m motivated to not only achieve this for my own sense of accomplishment, but more so show my children and others in the corporate sphere that we are continuing to chip away the minority barriers. It’s an exciting opportunity to make our mark in own our ways, big or small, as there is so much more work to be done here. All the same, our children and generations after will benefit from our drive and actions made today. We have a responsibility to instill the right message, and in so doing, they too may join in the battle. It’s certainly a battle worth fighting.

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  2. This is a struggle that women have been feeling throughout history. The correct terminology, for working mothers doing more work in the domestic realm once they come home from work, is THE SECOND SHIFT. While women are unrepresented in the corporate and and business world, there are so many more women that in fact do hold leadership and power roles, and suffer the second shift in their own home. It seems that although we do need to focus in on breaking that glass ceiling, it is just as important to educate husband’s in the domestic realm to partake in the second shift so that it becomes more equal work in the home as well as the business world.

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  3. First off, amazing article. It’s great to hear these statistics add some truth to common misconceptions of women in the workplace. I intern at a corporate company and have witnessed the very much existing gender gap in the corporate pyramid. The top executives are all men and they all prefer young female assistants. In the building next door, the lower executives are all women and they prefer laid-back male assistants. Reading your article made me think of these observations I’ve made at work. Women have been around in the lower executive positions for years; they are promoted less quickly and when they are assertive about their role as equals in the workplace, they are seen as bossy, snappy, not taken seriously. It’s hard to watch this happen in the office because I genuinely believe some of the female lower execs are much more creative, insightful and intelligent that the male execs. They contribute their ideas in the board meetings, only for those ideas to be credited by the top execs they work for. I’m not sure what the solution is for this, but I’m hoping that once more women are able to make it to the top of the corporate hierarchy, they will promote the women that come to work and bring interesting insight each day.

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  4. Great blog post. While I do consider myself a feminist in the very real and simple definition of the word: social, political, economic equality of the sexes, I agree with your point of the misrepresentation of women in the workplace. Not only do people use motherhood as an excuse for the false ideology that women lack sufficient drive in their career they also use motherhood as the reason of unequal pay. However the reality is not all women become mothers and the United States is the only developed country that does not have guaranteed paid maternity leave so why the wage inequality? Women like Sheryl have shown that mothers can be great at running businesses however the stereotype still exists that they aren’t, we need information like yours to be more widespread and we need women who have already got their foot in the door to empower other women.

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