Historically, women have been facing many socio-cultural factors in order to be integrated to a world principally designed by men and for men. One way to describe this situation has been called the Glass Ceiling, by definition an invisible but real barrier founded on attitudinal or organizational bias in the workforce that prevents minorities and women from advancing to leadership positions. This paper gives an overview of the principal reasons for this behavior based on previous studies, analyzes some approaches to handle them as well as possible actions that allow women and other minorities smash the glass-ceiling effects, and finally, it suggests some directions for future investigations.
Women in Management: A Socio-cultural Challenge
Anna Garlin Spencer (1913) in her book Woman's Share in Social Culture said: “The failure of women to produce genius of the first rank in most of the supreme forms of human effort has been used to block the way of all women of talent and ambition for intellectual achievement in a manner that would be amusingly absurd were it not so monstrously unjust and socially harmful” (p. 50). This quote is a brief way to expose a reality that, although it has been changing gradually, is still causing delays in women’s uphill journey to the top of the organizations’ management.
Some people could argue that this is a simple feminist perception and support their idea on the success cases in which women have actually reached top positions, but it is evident the inequality that women still experience based on socio-cultural prejudices. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Web shows that although women are more likely than men to work in professional and related occupations, they are not as well represented in the higher paying job groups within this broad category. In 2008, only 9 percent of female professionals were employed in the high-paying computer and engineering fields, compared with 45 percent of male professionals. Professional women were more likely to work in the education and health care occupations, in which pay was generally lower. (http://www.bls.gov/).
Women, on their way to achieve promotion to the higher levels in organizations, have to face many obstacles supported, in the majority, by wrong ideas about work and family conflicts, women’s competence, and old management models. Nowadays, women have surpassed strong barriers to get an education, to make decisions about how many children they want to have, to decide the direction they want to give to their lives, and to exert a complete control of their goals and objectives. Unfortunately, it seems like that transparent barrier which women face, commonly known as the glass ceiling, is pulling them apart from their aspirations. Nicolson stated in his 1996 study that “it allows them to see where they might go, but stops them getting there. In any given occupation and in any given public position, the higher the rank, prestige or power, the smaller the proportion of women” (as cited in Li, 2003, p. 2)
The intention of this paper is to analyze the role of women in management and why that is considered as a challenge. Although women have made efforts and have shown great commitment in order to get an important position in management world, it is still clear the presence of socio-cultural factors such as gender stereotypes, the male managerial model, and attitudes about women’s competence. These issues are not only leaving the feminine workforce in less status, less prestige, and lower salaries but they are also making more difficult the battle to achieve the desired workplace equality. Considering the importance of understanding the changing business world and the influence that women have on it, it is essential to present a historical background, demographic information, and statistics facts. Based on previous research journals, this paper...