Technical Education


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technical education Glass Ceiling

THE GLASS CEILING
by
Reading an article about the Glass ceiling triggered my curiosity, and I began to think how this could affect my daughter and her goals and aspirations.  According to the Department of Labor, females account for 43.99% of the workforce as of May 2001, but only a small fraction of women have succeeded in attaining senior level positions.  This fact makes it difficult to discount the allegations of inequality between men and women in the workplace, and proves that the effects of the glass ceiling are still prevalent.
The glass ceiling has been defined as an invisible barrier analogous to subtle male discrimination, which was as hard to pin down as it was effective in limiting women.(Steiner 666) While overt discrimination has decreased due to the consequences of legal actions, subtle discrimination on the other hand is still common business practice in many organizations.  Case studies have shown that subtle discrimination is based on establishing invisible barriers, which prevent high performing women from reaching their potential.  The following factors contribute to the strength of the glass ceiling and prevent it from shattering.  The first constraint has been described as gender based assumptions about careers and aspirations. (McCracken 160) The second hurdle limits the advancement opportunities for high performing and ambitious women.  Finally, the absence of formal and informal leadership development and networking possibilities exacerbate the inequality.
Gender Based Assumptions.  One of the most damaging perceptions is the belief that women are primarily focused on family and their secondary focus is on their career.  It is generally an accepted fact that the majority of childcare responsibilities fall on women. This suggests that men are completely focused on work priorities, while women are not that dependable, because their loyalty is to their families.  An example of this perception was given in the Harvard Business Review article, Winning the Talent War for Women.  Managers of Deloitte & Touche were presented with the following scenario: Two team members, a man and a woman both single parents, arrived late to a meeting. Evaluating this situation the managers joked and forgot the mans tardiness, but assumed the woman was having childcare problems.  A female manager even went further and suggested that the woman think seriously about her priorities.  
More recently women have gained equal access into entry-level professional positions at many prestigious firms.  Initially there is not a gap, because this places them at the same starting point with the male counter parts.  However, subtle discrimination and unchecked assumptions about female attributes provide the high achieving men with more opportunities to excel throughout their careers, consequently widening the gender gap.  While high performing men are often put on the fast track, high performing women are often prevented from achieving their highest potential.  Many high profile assignments and projects will elude women, because of the common belief that women could leave at any time to have and raise children.  
Lack of Opportunity for Advancement.   A report issued by the American Psychological Association states a series of studies have shown that almost all people have trouble detecting a pattern of discrimination unless they are faced with a flagrant example or have access to aggregated data documenting discrimination.  The glass ceiling is based on a very subtle form of discrimination, which is contrary to the flagrant warning signs necessary for detection by most people.  However, aggregated data has been collected, which documents the disproportion between men and women in senior level management positions.   The significant question to be answered is: Are there just not enough qualified women to fulfill senior management roles, or are other factors, more subtle obstacles preventing their access to the top of the career ladder?
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, in her article Pro & Con: The Myth of the Glass Ceiling claims that the small number of women in management positions is based on the fact that there are just more qualified men than women.  She states that todays senior managers have the right qualifications, that is, a graduate degree and 25 years of continuos work experience.  Not too many women graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree 25 years ago, and therefore the qualified female pool is much smaller.  Some of the ... more

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Jesse Jackson

Up with Hope: A biography of Jesse Jackson Dillon Press, 1986 This book is
about a virtuous leader, Jesse Jackson. It explains how he grew up in a hard
time for blacks and how he was committed to being somebody. When Jesse was a
little boy his grandmother urged him saying, Jesse, promise me youll be
somebody. The Reverend Jesse Jackson understood the power of hope. Jesses
childhood was tough for him. His mother and father werent married when she
had Jesse and the communitys disapproval was felt. Another reason for the
tough times in Jesses growing up was the discrimination against blacks. The
tough times never got in Jesses way; he was destined to be somebody. Jesse
had several jobs while he was growing up, to keep him off of the streets,
earning extra money for the clothing he liked to wear. His first job was at the
age of six, he worked in the wood and coal yards owned by his grandfather. He
also was very active in his schooling, always trying to better himself and learn
new things. When he was twelve years old he joined the reading club at the
County Library for the Colored, where Jesse found books to satisfy his curiosity
and his love for words. Jesse was also involved with sports and other
activities. When he was in high school he was always running for all the class
offices and any leadership position, because of his smarts and ways with the
crowd he was usually the one to win the positions. Jesse graduated tenth in his
class and went off to college to the University of Illinois on an athletic
scholarship. He was offered six thousand dollars a year to join the New York
Giants, but he felt that he should better his education. When Jesse got to
Illinois he found that segregation was as bad there as in the south. He was only
allowed to play certain positions because of his race, he wanted to play
quarterback but that was only for the whites. By the end of his freshmen year he
transferred to another school, North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State
College (A&T), a small all-black school. Jesse was quick to join the action
around his new school. While Jesse attended college at North Carolina A&T,
he joined many clubs and began to act in the civil rights movement. After Jesse
Jackson graduated from college he did political work in North Carolina. He spent
several weeks with Noah, Junior, his fathers son, while brooding about his
future. He was trying to decide whether he should become a minister just like
his grandfather or if he should further his education. He later decided to study
to become a minister. While Jesse was studying to become a minister he led
several of civil rights movements and spoke with many people. He worked with Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. on several operations. After Dr. King was assassinated
he formed his own organization helping out African-Americans. Analysis This book
shows a good example of leadership. Jesse Jackson was always trying to better
himself and become somebody. He always did what he thought was right trying to
help out others. If you believe in something it can be done. Jesse Jackson
wanted to be somebody and that was just what he did, he became somebody. He
fought for what was right and did a lot for the black communities. In a way you
could Jesse Jackson is a hero. He did a lot in helping the civil rights movement
and making things better for African-Americans. Many people admire the things he
has accomplished.


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