THE GLASS CEILING (G -C) EFFECT — A Working class woman’s struggle.
It’s no secret that female professionals face an uphill battle when it comes to career advancement. As we have all seen, the general society pushes them to put in more effort than their male peers for them to be recognized. They’re often forced into a gender-specific game of tit for tat, where they need to give “something” so that their accomplishments won’t go unnoticed. It’s a sad but true reality as I have personally seen some corporations have an imbalance of men versus women. The reasons for this phenomenon are unknown, though some say it could be because males tend to make more advances in their career paths than females do.
The G — C effect
The G — C effect is not just a modern-day issue. Considering the world’s population as given by CountryMeters.info, we can say that the ratio of men to that of women is almost equal (Male: 50.5%, Female: 49.5%). A report by the Bureau of Labour Statistics (US), revealed that 57.4% of all women participated in the labor force in 2019, 57.1% in 2018, and in fact the peak of women’s involvement in the work space was as far back as in 1999 with 60.0%. Also, according to a report by Jessica Bryant, a data reporter for BestColleges, women have accounted for over 50% of degree holders for more than 20 years and the percentage is on the increase.
In 2021, the proportion of women in senior management positions globally increased to 31%, which happens to be the highest number ever recorded. The question is, with the amount of women graduates that have joined the workforce in the last 25 years, how and why do we still have such a low proportion in top management positions?
Fortune’s 2021 list of CEOs at the 500 largest companies in the US revealed the extent of this ugly trend we’re trying to address. On that List, there were only 41 women i.e., 16% who made it into this elite group and in fact, this was considered the highest number ever by some experts! This represents just 16% and means we are making progress towards gender equity…but not so fast.
PS: In 2000, only 2 women were featured in that list, while in 2011, 15 women broke in.
Irrespective of limitations, we have some phenomenal women who have stood amidst all odds and in fact shattered the glass ceiling at their respective workplaces. An example (amongst others) of such is JANE FRASER, a British-American banking executive and the current CEO of Citigroup. Her promotion as the CEO of Citigroup Inc in 2021, made her the first woman to head a major Wall Street bank. Incredible? Historic? Definitely!
She had operated in some of the world’s fiercest corporate environments, such as Goldman Sachs, Harvard Business School and McKinsey & Company, before she joined Citigroup in 2004.
2015 to 2019, more than before, Fraser displayed competence for the top during her tenure as CEO of Citigroup Latin America, where she effectively managed some under- performing businesses. Finally, as of February, 2021, she assumed the role of CEO, Citigroup Inc, becoming the first female CEO of a top-tier Wall Street Investment Bank — leading the third-largest bank in the U.S.
Amidst all of these achievements, Jane Fraser is married and blessed with two sons. Wow!
This glass — ceiling anomaly is a rather specific form of inequality, compared to others, affecting women on every level, in spite of their educational qualifications, their years of experience or proven expertise in the field. This phenomenon is the ubiquitous resistance to the many efforts of women and minorities to get to top positions of management in major workspaces. If this is your story, then yes, you have been a victim of the “Glass — Ceiling” system.
In the 1980s, the G — C palava was used in tandem with another term called “mommy track”. At the time, this referred to the space that women of childbearing age were relegated to because they were considered less motivated than their male counterparts at work. It was a general belief that once women start bearing children, they become distracted and less dedicated to work as they would have to start performing maternal duties. Somehow, the “mommy track” system has become obsolete due to some factors. One of which is the fact that we now have Leave Laws/Acts that support maternity.
While the mommy tract has been dealt with, In today’s work space, the G-C effect is still thriving. It appears that continual biases and prejudices are now the cause of the glass ceiling. If you feel like you are in this boat, sadly, there are no definite strategies to break these ceilings but as it is said, when there is a will, there is always a way. You may need to take on extra high profile assignments, make yourself available always, be sociable — Network with the right set of people and make sure to document all of your achievements so that you can present them for review when the need arises.
Alternatively, if you have acquired enough experience and skill set, you may consider starting your own company (or becoming self employed). There are a lot of grant programs that are specifically designed to help female-owned businesses get off the ground including the FEDEX Small Business Grant and Amber Grant Foundation among others which you will find here — https://www.forbes.com/advisor/business-loans/business-grants-for-women/
This is definitely something to take advantage of.
It is important to note that the journey to the top isn’t always a smooth ride, irrespective of your gender, so don’t expect that you won’t face any difficulty.
With a mindset positioned for excellence, high level of competence and perseverance, we can have more “Jane Frasers” in the workplace.
Finally, as a male employer, manager, CEO or a person of authority in any industry, it is your responsibility to promote equity in all spheres, tolerating zero bias of any sort. Give your employees opportunities to thrive, irrespective of their gender and in the long run, your organization will benefit the most.
The sky is big enough for everyone to fly, irrespective of their gender or colour!