Glass Ceiling and the Effects on Women

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It’s 4:57PM and your superior has just emailed you and a fellow co-worker a project that is needed by 8AM tomorrow morning. You glance at the clock and realize you have two minutes before you must dash out of the office and rush 45 minutes across town to pick your child up from a daycare that closes in 30 minutes. Clearly, there is not nearly enough time to complete the request. You look at the office across from you and see your childless, single counterpart who simply smiles and says “…go ahead. I’ll handle the request”. All the way home you beat yourself up. Pondering how this will look to your superior? Will you look like a slacker or not be considered a “team player”? Or even worse… what potential promotion did you just decrease your chances of getting? You also began to consider the contrary… “What type of parent would I be to leave my child waiting at the daycare or disappoint them by having someone else pick him/her up?” How disappointed would your child be if you didn’t show up to pick him/her up when you promised ice cream this afternoon? If this scenario does not sound familiar to you, then maybe it is because you’re one of the few people that have not been faced with the issues that stem from the “glass ceilings” that still exist today in Corporate America. The term “glass ceiling” refers to situations where the advancement of a qualified person within the hierarchy of an organization is stopped at a lower level because of some form of discrimination. The metaphor can be simply defined as “an invisible or transparent barrier that keeps an individual from rising above a certain level in corporations”. Although the idea of a glass ceiling is widespread, there has been surprisingly very little research by economists to establish its existence or evaluate the consequences. In many corporations today, being single with or without children versus being married with or without children, leaves women or men who are married or single with huge choices and/or sacrifices to make. In our analysis, we attempt to define the challenges employees are faced with and suggest possible solutions to break through the “glass ceilings”.

It is an undeniable fact; there are physiological differences between men and women. The historical attitudes of males have been reflected in all levels of interaction toward the treatment of women including limiting women’s career choices, their intellectual maturity and credibility and their effectiveness as predominant contributors to the advancement of society. The female role has changed slowly but not totally. It has progressed from the little woman keeping hearth and home and requiring protection from the big strong husband and breadwinner, to being a contributing member of modern society. There has been a significant rise in the female labor force, from fifteen percent in 1983 to forty five percent in 2007. Most women today still work in lower paying jobs and skill groups such as office and administrative support that only require a High School Diploma. Women, rather than men, are usually the ones that limit their career growth by reducing their work hours or dropping out of the work force altogether. They settle for lower pay and limited career advancement so they can attempt to successfully integrate their family and job, especially if their spouse has a better opportunity for career growth. For women who choose a professional career (requiring a college degree), there is about a fifty/fifty split of female to male professionals (lawyers, doctors, managers and post secondary educators). If the professional woman is married and has children, she typically will earn less than her male counterpart, but this pay gap is related to working fewer hours per year due to family obligations. Single women, not on the parent track, with a college degree have incomes slightly higher than males with comparable experience and a High School education. Research has...
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