Glass ceiling for women in the workplace

Women and attritionWomen today have carved distinguished places for themselves in all spheres of life. They have taken risks and come out successful as well. They have reached the space, swam across the English Channel and even become the Prime Minister and President of the country. But, sometimes we still get to hear that women are not getting what they deserve at their workplace. This is due to the existence of a phenomenon called “glass ceiling” in the corporate world.

The glass ceiling may be defined as an artificial barrier in a women’s career which deters her from reaching senior positions or attaining high salary levels. This particular term was first coined by Hymowitz and Schellhardt in a 1986 Wall Street Journal Report on corporate women. While the word ceiling is used to indicate that the advancement of women in their careers is limited the term glass is used because the ceiling is not always visible. The barriers commonly include salary inequality for the same work, discrimination in promotions, sexual harassment in the workplace and lack of policies to maintain work-life balance.

A Senior Manager dealing with IT recruitments in a consultancy says, “We do not get any requirements from our clients who specify the salary range to be different for men and women applicants for a particular position.” This is of course a good sign. But some female employees in the IT sector who were interviewed did complain of gender wage gap in spite of the fact that they possessed equivalent education and experience as compared to their male counterparts.

“The gap in salary can be attributed to the fact that women are new entrants in many occupations and are therefore denied the increased pay that comes with experience. Organizations today are encouraging women to apply for open positions. They are also implementing very liberal policies to help them maintain work-life balance. Flexible working hours or telecommuting are some options to support women employees. Women are well represented in almost all companies and I do not see the existence of any glass ceiling that should hinder the progress of a women executive,” says a HR Executive.

Whether a glass ceiling truly exists at work is a debatable topic. But women executives should ignore any such phenomenon, take risks, voice their opinion assertively and climb up the corporate ladder. After all it is all about survival of the fittest in the corporate world.


- Ranjita Chattopadhyay (views expressed in the article are that of the author)


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