The Limitations of a Glass Ceiling

It can be said without a doubt that a women’s role in society has transformed tremendously over the last few decades as more women are making contributions to both societies but also within their line of work. Whether it be in the office or out in the open world, the seismic economic shift of power that women have recently gained is evident and grows increasingly as the days go by. However, despite this modification in women empowerment and female representation in the workplace, there still remains an invisible barrier preventing women from reaching the top.


The term ‘Glass ceiling’ was first introduced given rise to in a 1986 issue of The Wall Street Journal on corporate women by Hymowitz and Schellhardt. In essence, the glass ceiling can be seen as an allegory or that of a metaphor for the artificial barrier preventing women or those in minority groups from being promoted to executive-level positions within an organization. This phenomenon can be felt in numerous industries and lines of work, whether it be in corporations, government, education or even non-profit organizations, this concept still predominantly holds a majority of women back from soaring to their full potential. From past anecdotal evidence and personal experiences of women in the workplace, it can be concluded that the effect can be felt long before one actually bumps into it. Simple eventual occurrences such as being excluded from networking events or not being invited to gatherings outside the workplace can contribute to the overwhelming feeling of this glass ceiling. What one may view as a minor inconvenience towards attending work every day, can be having a substantial impact on those women have to first-hand experience the consequence of this phenomenon.


Unfortunately, when we take a step back and look at the larger picture we soon realize that the traditional glass ceiling is not the only obstacle women face as they climb their career ladders. The struggle for equal pay amongst men and women in the workplace has been something people have campaigned for time and time again. The brief history surrounding equal pay underlines that The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970 and later implemented in January 1976. The journey towards the passing of this act consisted of strikes, women’s suffering and a large number of help from trade unions. During WW1, women took on men’s jobs while the men were deployed in armed forces, they quickly realized that they were expected to do the same work but for lower rates, and thus the issue of equal pay was born. Nonetheless, 50 years into the future after the first equal pay legislation and we can still witness women being paid less than men.


Few women tend to reach positions in the upper echelon of society and even well-known organizations around the world are largely exclusively lead by men. The glass ceiling still predominantly exists in varying levels in different nations and regions across the world. So moving forward into the future what can companies do to enhance a more substantial and sustainable work environment that equally benefits both men and women?

  1. In order to break the ceiling, we must first be able to identify it: signs amongst the workplace such as a lack of diversity in leadership roles, unequal pay rates or even unfair opportunity opportunities need to be pointed out and amended as a way of taking the first step forward. This should allow companies to be more transparent with their workers and work alongside one another to create cracks in the ceiling.

  2. Take actions into one’s own hands: sometimes what it truly takes for change is for frustration to be channelled into purposeful action. Individuals passion can be used as a catalyst for action and as a form of motivation for others in the community who are also feeling oppressed or at a disadvantage. It is important to note that while being assertive is necessary, it is also crucial that people are patient, understanding that dismantling the glass ceiling will take time is needed as long as progress is evident.

  3. Speak, educate and change: encourage open conversations about these issues to those in the workplace them educate one another about how one can collectively move forward. Through promoting ideas that enhance diversity and inclusion, organizations should take action to honestly explore what their employee’s belief and actually work towards change not just for the current generation but for the sake of the younger generations.

The unjust and discrimination against the female population in the workplace and the prevention of reaching the top of their potential is a problem that needs to be tackled ASAP, it is time we stop sitting back and letting issues like these pass us by but rather it is time we stand up for change and for the advancement of society as a whole we need to work together to break the cycle of the glass ceiling once and for all, permanently.


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