The ‘glass ceiling’: an illusion?
Author: Randle, V.
Source: Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, Volume 24, Number 2, February 1999 , pp. 105-109(5)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:The so called ‘glass ceiling’ has been defined by the (now defunct) Glass Ceiling Commission as ‘invisible, artificial barriers that prevent qualified individuals from advancing within their organisation and reaching full potential’. I have recently examined the research literature on this phenomenon and discovered not only that the associated imagery is very powerful, but that the principal message, with only a few exceptions, is that there is a shortfall of women compared to men in top jobs, and that therefore a glass ceiling must be operating to hold them back. In this article I argue the view that the glass ceiling perpetuates a notion which persuades women to expect to be unfairly treated. I develop this theme by considering male versus female attributes, evidence for male and female job satisfaction, the steadily rising participation of women at management levels, and women's aspirations. Some special consideration is given to women in science, engineering, and technology. Finally, I discuss ways forward in terms of non-interventionist measures such as the use of role models, mentoring, and networking, since the non-competitive and cooperative aspects of these initiatives appeal particularly to women and have proved to be successful in encouraging them to fulfil their potential.
Document Type: Regular Paper
Affiliations: Department of Materials Engineering, University of Wales Swansea, UK
Publication date: 1999-02-01