The Glass Ceiling Women Face

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The Glass Ceiling Women Face: An Examination and Proposals for Development of Future Women Entrepreneurs

Janet L. Nixdorff Theodore H. Rosen
s of 2007, there were an estimated 10.4 million businesses in the United States that were owned and operated by women. The number of women-owned firms has continued to grow at around twice the rate of all firms for the past two decades (Center for Women’s Business Research, 2008). On the other hand, women comprise only 15.4 percent of corporate officers in Fortune 500 companies (Catalyst, 2007b) and, in 2003, held only 14.8 percent of board seats in the Fortune 500 (Catalyst, 2007a).To better understand the glass ceiling faced by both female entrepreneurs and women leaders, the research on women’s issues is examined from a number of different vantage points. Women’s entrepreneurship and women’s leadership research on leadership, decision-making, and gender differences was examined to discover commonalities. Then female single-sex education literature was reviewed for insights on developmental issues that might influence future women entrepreneurs and leaders. In this exploration of research, it was found that both women entrepreneurs and women leaders in the corporate environment tend toward the same leadership styles and ways of interacting with others; they also experience a lack of role models and possible lack of self-efficacy. The literature on single-sex education provides observations that young women may thrive in environments in which there are fewer male competitors, hold less stereotyped views on gender, hold higher aspirations, may have greater opportunities for training of leadership skills, and may have increased self-confidence that may be the result of exposure to successful women role models. Implications for future research are explored and suggestions are provided to meet the needs of developing women entrepreneurs. Keywords: women entrepreneurs, glass ceiling, entrepreneurship education, women leaders, gender differences

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As of 2007, the number of women-owned and –operated firms in the United States was estimated at 10.4 million. These firms provide jobs for 12.8 million people and generate sales of $1.9 trillion annually. The number of womenowned firms has continued to grow at around twice the rate of all firms for the past two decades (Center for Women’s

Business Research, 2008). Many of these women entrepreneurs start their new ventures after leaving the corporate environment because they have become dissatisfied with career prospects (Cormier, 2007). Women comprise only 15.4 percent of corporate officers in Fortune 500 companies (Catalyst, 2007b) and held only 14.8 percent of board seats in the Fortune 500 in 2003 (Catalyst, 2007a). One common misperception for this lack of representation in higher organizational levels is that it takes time for women to move up through the ranks. We often hear, and in fact, know it is a truth, that there is a “glass ceiling” that meets many women as they do move up the career ladder (see e.g., Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, 1995; Catalyst, 2000; Corsun & Costen, 2001; Davidson & Cooper, 1992; Von Glinow & Mercer, 1988; Powell, Butterfield & Parent, 2002). Further, there is little evidence that women are being groomed for leadership positions in a consistent manner (Daily, Certo, & Dalton, 1999). For example, Helfat, Harris and Wolfson (2006) found that only 6 percent of CEOs in the Fortune 1000 will be women by the year 2016. Even if women do advance in their careers, they may be subject to different expectations than their male counterparts. For example, the recent expulsion of Carly Fiorina from HewlettPackard may mirror these anomalies in corporate expectancies (Des Jardins, 2005; Loomis, 2005).The glass ceiling effect holds implications for women entrepreneurs and women in corporate positions alike. Much has been written about the lack of female advancement in the workforce. Rather than a direct focus on...
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