In economics, the term glass ceiling refers to "the seen, yet unreachable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements. Initially, the metaphor applied to barriers in the careers of women but was quickly extended to refer to obstacles hindering the advancement of minority men, as well as women.
While the phrase glass ceiling is metaphorical, many women who find themselves bumping their heads on it find it very real indeed. It is most often used to describe the sexist attitude many women run into at the workplace. In a discussion of ascending the corporate ladder, the word “ceiling” implies that there is a limit to how far someone can climb it. Along with this implied barrier is the idea that it is glass, meaning that, while it is very real, it is transparent and not obvious to the observer. The term glass ceiling is most often applied in business situations in which women feel, either accurately or not, that men are deeply entrenched in the upper echelons of power, and women, try as they might, find it nearly impossible to break through.
David Cotter et al. defined four distinctive characteristics that must be met to conclude that a glass ceiling exists. A glass ceiling inequality represents: 1.
"A gender or racial difference that is not explained by other job-relevant characteristics of the employee." 2.
"A gender or racial difference that is greater at higher levels of an outcome than at lower levels of an outcome. 3.
"A gender or racial inequality in the chances of advancement into higher levels, not merely the proportions of each gender or race currently at those higher levels." 4.
"A gender or racial inequality that increases over the course of a career." Cotter and his colleagues found that glass ceilings are a distinctively gender phenomenon. Both white and African-American women face a glass ceiling in the course of their careers. In contrast, the researchers did not find evidence of a glass ceiling for African-American men. The glass ceiling metaphor has often been used to describe invisible barriers ("glass") through which women can see elite positions but cannot reach them ("ceiling"). These barriers prevent large numbers of women and ethnic minorities from obtaining and securing the most powerful, prestigious, and highest-grossing jobs in the workforce. Moreover, this barrier can make many women feel as they are not worthy enough to have these high-ranking positions, but also they feel as if their bosses do not take them seriously or actually see them as potential candidates. The glass ceiling continues to exist although there are no explicit obstacles keeping women and minorities from acquiring advanced job positions – there are no advertisements that specifically say "no minorities hired at this establishment", nor are there any formal orders that say "minorities are not qualified" (equal employment opportunity laws forbid this kind of discrimination) – but they do lie beneath the surface. When a company exercises this type of discrimination they typically look for the most plausible explanation they can find to justify their decision. Most often this is done by citing qualities that are highly subjective or by retrospectively emphasizing/de-emphasizing specific criteria that gives the chosen candidate the edge. Mainly this invisible barrier seems to exist in more of the developing countries, in whose businesses this effect is highly "visible". There are many different impediments placed upon women that makes it difficult for them to attain a higher work status. With these very negative effects on women and their self-esteem, the glass ceiling has created an even larger problem than just in the work place. Most see the glass ceiling as only being in the work place, which is where it originally was intended for, it has spread to encompass the household and...
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