Burbank, California; February 24, 2002; Joan Marques, MBA, Doctoral Student
Okay, this is not my first article about the Glass Ceiling, but I can assure you that I'm not obsessed with it. It's just that I came to some insights that others must have had before me as well, and that I would like to share with my audience at this time.
First, for the ones who are at a total loss regarding the abovementioned phenomenon, "[t]he term glass ceiling was first used in a 1986 Wall Street journal article, referring to invisible barriers that impeded the career advancement of women in the American work force. In more recent years, the term has come to include underrepresented minority groups." (Baker & Lightle, 2001, p.18)
In this article I would like to limit my focus to women. Rightfully so, they have been suffering from the "brotherhood of men" - the closed bond men create to keep their positions secure - which made it impossible for many women in the past to reach leadership levels, and if they did, to earn the same salary that their (white) male colleagues in similar positions were taking home. And till this day it isn't easy for women in many career fields to reach the highest regions.
Maybe that should explain why women are so extremely competitive. Or were they that way long before anyone thought of a term called "the glass ceiling"? Here are some interesting things I have been considering today. Being a woman myself, I have to admit that I:
1. Never really received any real encouragement from another woman in any work-related field. Career-blessings and mentorship always came from? right, men!
2. Endured many setbacks when another woman had to decide whether I would be fit for a position. They obviously seemed to prefer men, and part of me understands them (see point 5)
3. Experienced women?s competitiveness in every field. Ever tried to get another woman yielding for you in traffic if you're a woman yourself? 9 times out of 10 they will ignore you!
4. Often heard women complaining that their biggest enemies in reaching a goal were? other women. Unfortunately, I experienced it myself as well.
5. Found that women, once in a position they desired for a long time, will hardly ever help other women (who are in beginning stages) to get even close.
6. Found that men are generally easier and less complicated to work with than women. Women are very often subject to mood swings, causing their co-workers to go through hell figuring out whether they are angry with them, or just have a bad-hair day.
The world of today houses an increasing number of female organizations, attempting to increase awareness among woman, enhance educational chances for women, and decrease domestic violence against women, among many other noble goals. Great initiatives. But as long as women remain their own most important enemy, and as long as they don't understand the concept of "sisterhood," (even the word sounds unfamiliar, huh? Maybe because it's hardly ever used?) all these attempts will slowly fade without lasting success.
If we look at the Glass-ceiling, then, we can find millions of reasons, culpable to the construction of our society, why women are still at a disadvantage compared to men. But one of the main reasons for this to happen is, that women haven't managed to understand the concept of holding each other's back. They cannot count on each other. They don't form a close bond. They compete with themselves to death. They refuse to give one another the credits and chances they deserve. They seem to prefer suffering than giving each other a push in the right direction. They will come up with zillions of "good" reasons why they are unable to help other women, mostly varying from "having to create equal opportunity," and "promoting honesty," to "not being the sole decision-maker." Yet, the main reason behind their behavior is probably fear. Fear that the other woman, once in the career-boat, will outperform them and push them aside. And this could lead us to wonder why they are this fearful in the first place. Insecurity? Distrust? Self doubt? Risk averseness? All these factors and many more!
Only if women decide to dare giving their sisters a chance, and only when they start trusting the karmic laws that teach us that if you do good, good will be done to you in return (even if it happens in a totally different area), will they be able to break the barrier that - above all - they create for themselves: the maintenance of the Glass Ceiling.
Baker, B., & Lightle, S. S. (2001). Cracks in the glass ceiling: An analysis of gender equity in the federal government auditing career field. The Journal of Government Financial Management, 50(3), 18-26.