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Unfortunately, there are so few top-level positions and the competition is so fierce, final hiring decisions invariably come down to personal feelings. Short of imposing quotas, which can set you up for reverse discrimination lawsuits, there is relatively little you can do. Foster an air of equality at every level of the company. Be sure that women and minorities are fairly represented in any employee development programs that may exist. Actively recruit women if yours if a male-dominated field.
Require sensitivity training. In short, fostering a real spirit of gender-blind and color-blind cohesion throughout the company can help in the long run by erasing stereotypes and biases.
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The glass ceiling effect was first studied in the s and seems to have changed very little in the 20 years that followed. Nonetheless, many companies and activists are working together on the situation.
Maintain your focus, be pro-active in determining your own career path and expect that at many companies you will be in for a fight. Change may be happening at a glacial pace, but it is happening. Believe in yourself and work towards your goals. In tandem with others doing the same thing, you can bring about real change in the workplace. Health Topics. Health Tools. Women's Health. By Lisa Fritscher. Reviewed: November 15, You may have heard of the glass ceiling effect. The glass ceiling is the invisible barrier that prevents women and minorities from rising to the highest ranks in a corporation.
What you may not realize is just how pervasive the glass ceiling still is, even several years into the 21 st century. You may also be unaware of the steps you can take to fight this subtle form of discrimination. Here is what every working woman should know about the glass ceiling effect.
What Is the Glass Ceiling Effect? The glass ceiling effect is the pervasive resistance to the efforts of women and minorities to reach the top ranks of management in major corporations.
It is unclear exactly who named the phenomenon, but the term was heavily used during the mids. Women who entered the workforce in large s during the late s and early s found themselves unable to advance beyond a certain level of management. The perception was that women would take extensive time off or leave the workforce altogether once they had children. If women did return to work, they were believed to be less dedicated employees because of their maternal duties. The mommy track was made largely obsolete by a combination of factors.
The Family and Medical Leave Act of compels employers to grant any eligible employee, male or female, 12 weeks of unpaid leave within any 12 month period for, among other conditions, the birth or adoption of. This Act enables women to remain in the workforce following childbirth by allowing them a reasonable period of time to stay at home.
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Furthermore, the inclusion of men in the protections of the Act allows fathers to stay at home as well. Legal challenges and a change in thinking have led many employers to offer additional leave time, some with pay, to new parents as well.
Increasingly, companies are also offering additional perks to encourage employees of both genders to find a balance between work and home life. Some of these perks include flexible scheduling, the ability to bring to work for the day and even employer-run daycare facilities.
While the issue of the mommy track has largely been addressed, the problem of the glass ceiling effect remains. Women are no longer shunted into a completely different career track. Instead, they find themselves almost - but not quite - reaching the top ranks.
The glass ceiling is so named because it is a point beyond which women cannot reach or a ceiling on their advancement. The ceiling is made of glass because the woman can see beyond. Instead, many of the companies where a glass ceiling exists seem as stymied as the rest of us by how to effectively crack the barrier.
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It appears that long-standing biases and prejudices are now the cause of the glass ceiling. Minority men are also affected by this phenomenon. Some Asian groups have taken to calling it the bamboo ceiling, as they are repeatedly passed over for promotions in favor of less-qualified white men. A report by the federal Glass Ceiling Commission showed that only seven to nine percent of upper management at Fortune firms were women.
Clearly, the effect is extremely pervasive throughout all sorts of industries. In short, prove that you are not only highly qualified, but that you are one of them. Alternatively, consider working for a female-owned company or start your own.
The glass ceiling effect and its impact on women
There are a lot of grant programs that are specifically deed to help female-owned businesses get off the ground. If you choose to work for a female-owned company, however, remember that this is no guarantee that your struggles will be any less. Some women who become successful develop a hard edge and bitterness and feel that they clawed their way to the top and so should every woman after them.
Of course, other female top executives feel the exact opposite and strive to make things easier for women who follow. Likewise, many top male executives enjoy the status quo and relish their position of power and have personal biases against women who try to intrude on what they see as their territory. Other top male executives see the system as antiquated and unfair and actively strive to break the glass ceiling from above.
In short, whether your company is dominated by men or women at the top ranks, personalities are individual and varied.
Your path to the top will be unique and will require that you read the situation and work within the system as much as possible.