Glass Ceiling

Why aren’t there more women in senior management positions?   Discuss with reference to research on the ‘glass ceiling’

The phrase ‘glass ceiling’ is a figurative term coined in the 1970s and is widely used to highlight and describe the psychological, social and economic barriers that prevent women from securing top positions in their respective field. It is, therefore, important that a pluralistic approach is taken to truly identify the factors that cause fewer women to be in senior management positions. In describing the invisible barrier as a glass ceiling, it is suggested that gender equality in the work place is an illusion as systematic discriminations still exist.

Despite there being a number of changes in women’s equality over the year’s traditional gender roles remain relatively intact, often, to the detriment of women’s career. It is almost expected that a woman’s career or job must take a secondary role to family and domestic commitments whilst men on the other hand are able to make greater commitment to work related progress. The result of this is more women try to maintain flexibility by taking on part-time positions, which means, lower pay and little chance of promotion. It is evident that there is a significant difference between the historical working patterns of women and men, with 90% of part-time positions being occupied by women throughout the European community during the 1990s (Women of Europe Supplements, 1989) whilst a further two fifths of female part-time workers being employed in low-skilled, low-status occupations at the time (New Earnings Survey, 1990).

In the cases where women are able to secure full time positions, their career progress is often stultified by attitudes and prejudice of male employers whose discriminations are based on the assumptions that women are less committed to their career. A married woman hoping to gain a managerial position, for example, is likely to suffer discrimination due to employers’ view that...