Glass Ceiling Research Paper 2011

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“Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, "She doesn't have what it takes." They will say, "Women don't have what it takes." Clare Boothe Luce) Such a sentiment echoes for what are now generations of women that have educated themselves and worked hard to obtain some measure of professional success. Women have made-up nearly half of the workforce throughout the past decade, and are equal to or have surpassed the number of men graduating with advanced professional degrees according to a Catalyst study conducted between 2007 and 2008 (Catalyst 2010). Some might argue that incoming/outgoing number as a basis for the representative number of women leaders in equal ratio- almost half. However to make such an argument would be naïve. While the altruistic notion that women should match men in shear leadership numbers is commendable, the sad truth is that women make up less than “14 percent of corporate executives at top publicly-traded companies around the world” (Catalyst 2010). Indeed, current research trends indicate that there continues to be an uninspiring proportion of male and female workers in leadership roles, while the chasm-like wage gap between the genders endures and companies are still doing not enough to bring equity to these problems. True, some progress has been noted in the past ten years, with women achieving more high-level positions such as Chief Executive Officer or similarly, a key political position here and there. However this imbalance of power between the sexes is still notable across all industries and indicates that the glass ceiling is very well still in place for many women. Even existing protections and government sanctioned benefits are lacking. The “Family and Medical Leave Act is one such institution that effects maternity leave in the U.S. because it entitles eligible women of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave” (U.S. Department of Labor, 2011) Unfortunately, despite FMLA’s merits, and other efforts made by companies to expand their benefits offerings to female workers, some women remain reluctant to ask for these benefits out of a fear of seeming to need more hand-holding than their workplace counterparts (Liff, Ward 2001). Additionally, FMLA does not fully meet women’s needs- for example, maternity leave is still considered optional, meaning women still have to choose between their new babies and going back to their jobs a few months after their babies are born (Queneau, Marmo 2001). It’s likely not a decision that is easy to make- career or child? Catalyst, a leading not for profit membership organization expanding opportunities for women in business reports that the long-running wage gap between the genders for the same work and experience continues to persist (Catalyst 2010). All of these individual factors collectively reflect a relatively unchanged landscape for women in the workplace, from say, ten years ago. Unfortunately, it seems that what progress has been made to erode the glass ceiling is incremental at best. Ostensibly, women still have many obstacles to overcome in order to achieve equity with men in the workplace with respect to opportunity, upward mobility and pay. In the study related to the article “Distorted Views through the Glass Ceiling: The Construction of Women's Understandings of Promotion and Senior Management Positions,” women often expressed concern with the balance between holding a senior leadership position and raising or starting a family. The demands of the office are such that active parenting can be somewhat challenging in terms of time management. It’s hard to work an 80 hour work week at the law firm with a newborn at home. Paradoxically, where there has been some improvement in the benefits offered to...
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