Personal Development
Breaking the Glass Ceiling at Work and Unleashing Your ...

Breaking the Glass Ceiling at Work and Unleashing Your ...

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Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling: A Guide to Overcoming Obstacles to Women's Career Progression

It was back in 1978 that the phrase "glass ceiling" was first coined by Marilyn Loden as a metaphor for the invisible barriers that prevent women from reaching their full career potential. Over the intervening decades, the idea of the glass ceiling has been broadened to include any kind of discrimination which restricts the progress of certain people, including minorities as well as women.

Discriminatory practices are hugely detrimental to businesses, organizations and society as a whole. A good example of the glass ceiling in action is a company that favors hiring men to higher-level positions such as management because they believe that men make better leaders.

In addition to the glass ceiling, women may sometimes fall victim to the "glass cliff" - the unfortunate situation in which women are only offered leadership roles during times of crisis, when failure is more likely and the scapegoat for any failure tends to be the woman in the role.

Examples of the Glass Ceiling

The glass ceiling can take a variety of forms. Here are some examples of how it can manifest:

  • Being denied a promotion to a management level due to pregnancy or plans to have children
  • Exclusion from executive meetings and decision-making activities
  • Being denied the necessary tools and resources to do their job properly
  • Being reassigned to different projects while male colleagues get more favored opportunities
  • Inability to attend leadership and networking events
  • Experience discrimination based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or class

What Causes the Glass Ceiling?

It's important that we understand why the glass ceiling exists before we can start to break it down. In reality, it is formed by many contributing elements which interact to create gender inequality.

Gender roles, or the way in which men and women are expected to behave in certain social contexts, are an insidious cultural construct which can confine people's behavior and limit their choices both in life and in the workplace.

Gender bias, or the favoring of one gender above another, is also damaging to women in the workforce. It stops women from gaining the same opportunities as their male peers, even when they are just as or more qualified, and reinforces the idea that they are not as capable as men.

Sexual harassment is still a widespread issue in many workplaces, with a 2018 survey by the ABA Journal finding that 68% of female respondents had experienced it in the workplace. If companies and organizations fail to recognize and address this problem, the glass ceiling will never be broken.

How to Smash the Glass Ceiling

Smashing the glass ceiling is a long and often difficult process. However, by recognizing the various roadblocks and taking steps to remove them, we can work towards a fairer and more equitable society.

We can all play a part - whether you are a full-time employee in a senior role or an inexperienced employee, you can stand up and make a difference. When you spot instances of discrimination or inequality, don't be afraid to speak up - every voice matters when it comes to bringing about real change.

Acknowledging The Glass Ceiling To Break Barriers

In 2021, a record 41 women are running businesses on the Fortune 500 list, with two Black women taking the reins for the first time ever. All of this is to say, that breaking the glass ceiling is indeed a possibility. At Shiken, we understand the importance of breaking these invisible barriers and the difficulties that come with doing so. We offer custom coaching services to help you reach your career goals and climb up the ladder. In addition, here are five strategies to help you break down the glass ceiling and reach your full potential.

Strengthening Your Network Of Coworkers

One of the best ways to start making progress is to strengthen your network of coworkers. Make sure to keep in touch with current and past colleagues, especially those who have an understanding of your aspirations. Connect with them via any means that makes them comfortable, whether that's through calls, emails, social media, or anything else. This way, you can gain support and advice, while also getting introduced to new opportunities.

Engaging In Bias And Stereotype Training

Bias and stereotype training is an important step to recognize the glass ceiling in your workplace. By engaging with an external expert, you can start conversations around the problem and start thinking of solutions. This is beneficial for those in managerial positions, as it can help to identify any potential issues that need to be addressed.

Advocating For Yourself

When it comes to facing challenges, standing up for yourself is essential. It's important to voice out your experiences and remain brave in the face of adversity, as it may help others in the same situation. Make sure to highlight your strengths and speak up against the obstacles that hold you back.

Conducting Blind Screening During Interviews

Introducing blind screening in the interviewing process is an effective way to remove any unconscious biases that might be present. With blind screening, any irrelevant details, such as people's names, are excluded in order to ensure that everyone is being evaluated based on their skills and experience alone. This can help to level the playing field and promote a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Creating Diversity Hiring And Promoting Goals

Companies can assess how diverse their work environment is, and what kind of goals they need to set in order to promote equal opportunities for their employees. By setting goals and making progress towards them, it ensures that women are given the same chances and opportunities as everyone else.

How Has The Glass Ceiling Changed Over Time?

The term 'glass ceiling' was first coined decades ago, and the fight for gender equality has taken many forms since then. As more conversations are taking place, the term is becoming more widely accepted and it's becoming clear that the glass ceiling is an issue that affects different people in different ways. Through dialogue and taking action, we can work together to break these barriers and empower others to do the same.

Key Terms Related to Breaking the Glass Ceiling

  • Pink-Collar
    This term is used to refer to the jobs typically held by women, such as those in the caring professions. Unfortunately, these roles often pay less than the white- or blue-collar jobs traditionally held by men, as the wage gap persists.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Stepping up to the challenge of shattering the glass ceiling can be a daunting task. However, with the right perspective, support, and tools, it is achievable with help from a coach or mentor. LGBTQIA+ individuals may have difficulty bringing their authentic self to work. This highlights the need for increased representation of different genders, backgrounds, and sexual orientations in the workplace, in order to break gender bias and discrimination. Recognizing and attempting to break implicit biases and unreasonable qualifications associated with leadership roles may help even the gender playing field in the workplace.

Gender Bias in the Workplace

Gender bias in the workplace can manifest in various forms. Performance reviews may be used to deny women promotions or other advancement opportunities due to unfair discrimination. It is important for everyone to recognize and address these issues in order to break gender stereotypes and bridge the gender gap in leadership positions.

Working Together

Creating cracks in the glass ceiling is a challenging task, but it becomes easier with the support and guidance from a coach or mentor. Through this approach, an individual can break the glass ceiling not only for themselves, but also for their colleagues. By working together to break the ceiling, everyone has the opportunity to experience the liberation that comes with achieving personal and professional growth.

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