What is Glass Ceiling?

Around the world men tend to participate in labor markets more frequently than women   According to the statistics, female labor force participation rate of the world is 47.66 per cent while the male labor force participation rate is 74.7 per cent Overall, the global gender gap in labor force participation stood at 27 per cent. In Northern, Southern and Western Europe, significant declines in gender participation gaps occurred across most countries between 1990 and 2018 including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. In some of the world’s most populous countries, such as China, India and the Russian Federation, there were either no substantial declines or slight increases in the gap.

More and more women are becoming graduates, earning professional and technical degrees and entering corporate life at the present scenario. Today many women are engaging in labor market, yet woman are considered as minority in corporate world. In organizational context women are considered as a minority group and women’s roles in organization is categorized under the ethnic minorities. But in some regions like Africa, East Asia and Pacific, North America and Europe women can be seen in equal labor participation as men. Women represent 52.4% of fortune 500 companies but only 15.5% in executive positions (Catalyst, 2015). Only 4.9% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 2% of S&P 500 CEOs are women and those numbers are declining globally (Zenger & Folkman, 2019). Majority of managers are men in top executives and higher levels of professional workers while women are concentrated in the lower categories of managerial positions.

Today’s women are involved progressively in career advancement that qualify them to assume occupations, professions and managerial position that have always been known to be earmarked for men. Despite their efforts, they are faced with what is termed as ‘Glass Ceiling’. Glass Ceiling refers to transparent but real barriers, based on discriminatory attitudes or organizational bias, that impede qualified individuals from advancing into management positions. Simply glass ceiling describe as the obstacles that lead to the underrepresentation of women in leadership and upper level management positions in an organization.

Many corporations, organizations and governments has taken actions to reduce or eliminate these obstacles in order to promote equality and women empowerment in workplace, organizations or countries. It must be required to provide similar opportunities to woman for her career development and to reach higher-level position as men. Women are having capability to reach at highest-ranking position as many researchers suggested but can’t get it due to invisible barriers with them. Even though the number of women in middle management has grown quite rapidly in the last two decades, the number of female CEO’s in large corporations remains extremely low. Therefore, it further confirms that the glass ceiling still exists in every corner of the world and it is not easy to go beyond this invisible barrier.

There are many explanations for why women have not risen to the top, including lack of line experience, inadequate career opportunities, gender differences in linguistic styles and socialization, gender-based stereotypes, the old boy network at the top, and tokenism. These explanations are still in the discussion, even after 20 years it has not changed much. The attitude of owners who influence management policies found to be the most unarticulated barrier to career progression and breaking the glass ceiling in managerial positions in this industry. All the reasons why women managers are only few in number in upper management may not be obvious, but several barriers have been repeatedly revealed in various forms and combinations in studies on career development and advancement as well as on glass ceiling effect. These are social prejudices, unsupportive working environment, lack of organizational savvy, human resources practices, individual factors of women themselves and difficulty in balancing career and family.

Recent research in the United Arab Emirates found the most significant challenge women face to become corporate leaders and board members is cultural at 42 percent followed closely by self-imposed at 36 percent, and 40 percent of the respondents agreed that women feel they lack the experience to become board members (Hawkamah, 2016).

Despite all these facts and theories few women have shattered the glass ceiling in a way that can be something all men and women to look forward in the future. One of the most recent and strongest example is the Prime Minister of New Zealand who was admired by the people around the world for the way she handled and controlled the covid 19 pandemic in her country. She is none other than Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She was praised for her exceptional leadership around the world not only in New Zealand. She is ranked as no one Leader among Fortune World’s 50 greatest leaders. It is the First time a women has ever held the top slot solo.


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