Women Work to Shatter the Glass Ceiling
What is the glass ceiling and why are women and minorities trying to break it?
According to Oxford Dictionary:
According to The Wall Street Journal, the term “glass ceiling” is not a trendy new term. It actually can be traced back to the 1980s when Gay Bryant was quoted in AdWeek stating, “Women have reached a certain point—I call it the glass ceiling. They’re in the top of middle management, and they’re stopping and getting stuck.”
The term glass ceiling is most often used when discussing limitations for minorities and women in the workplace. These limitations most often include barriers to opportunity, salary increase and promotions.
“You know I hate to say it but I definitely think that there is a glass ceiling for women that disallows them from progressing to the extent of their male counterparts,” Nancy Prymak, chemical engineer and packaging manager at Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, said.
Forbes found that in 2017, only a tenth of the most senior roles across North America and Western Europe were filled by women. This pointed to “clear and compelling evidence” that the “glass ceiling still keeps top jobs for the boys.”
“I would always get to a certain production level and then not beyond that,” Prymak said. “It’s just amazing how now, even now, that I go into meetings and I am still one of the only women managers. And that’s at a management level. As you move up to vice president there are few and far between.”
Individuals across the country, like Prymak, are raising the issue that the effects of the glass-ceiling are not as “invisible” as we might think.
“I’ve seen it,” Joanne Trindel, staff officer at the U.S. Department of Defense, said. “I remember we had a deputy director that was a woman, and I heard a conversation about ‘How can we have her as a deputy director? It’s a woman.’”
“She blew them out of the water with her skills, her abilities, her background,” Trindel continued. “But there was this ceiling that basically said, ‘How could she have gotten there?’ There was the assumption that maybe she didn’t get there by knowledge or skill. But that she got there by, I don’t know, some other means, relations, or otherwise. So I saw that always as a glass ceiling.”
While some corporations are in fact striving to make their practices more “women-friendly,” many still feel that they are forced to make the hard decision between pursuing a career and raising a family.
According to Forbes, while there are some exceptions, “Ultimately, women must opt to take time out of work for prolonged periods to raise a family and this basic difference affects career progression for a gender as a whole.”
“You shouldn’t have to choose between motherhood and a career. You should be able to do both. No one will ever say it is easy. It’s not easy,” Mary Kay Burke, CEO of White Horse Village in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, said.
“I was raising two children, going to graduate school and had a husband who travelled. It was really, really difficult. But I can certainly see why it’s too difficult and some women say I don’t want to do that. If you choose not to do that it’s okay. But we don’t have the infrastructure in the government, in the education system, in our churches, anywhere, that supports women who choose to have a career,” Burke said.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, progress has been made; but not nearly enough.
An excerpt from the Recommendations of the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission said, “The glass ceiling is not only an egregious denial of social justice that affects two-thirds of the population, but a serious economic problem that takes a huge financial toll on American business. Equity demands that we destroy the glass ceiling. Smart business demands it as well.”
By Molly Seaman