Breaking the glass ceiling

Breaking the glass ceiling
See also

This term describes an invisible barrier which occurs in the professional world. Therefore, the glass ceiling is a term which is most likely associated with women.Those affected, are often not aware of the undistinguished barrier since this phenomenon stays often under-covered and unknown.

What is Glass Ceiling? The invisible barrier does not allow individuals to climb higher on the carrier ladder. Any individual could be affected by this phenomenon; men, women, and general members of minorities. Nevertheless, the most affected group are women. Affected individuals might be stuck in the same position or experiencing lower wages and rewarding for accomplishing the same tasks and jobs. The situation varies across the countries. While some countries deliver remarkable terms for women to develop their ability, skills, and chances, other countries are still doing a rather poor work on gender equality.

Who is affected by the Glass Ceiling?

Glass ceiling phenomenon has a negative impact on various minorities (Pfohman, 2014).[[1]]Most often, the phenomenon of the glass ceiling is associated with women[[2]]and the issues they deal with while working in a business. However, many other minorities are kept away from raising their position in the business hierarchy (University’s, 2017). Mostly, discrimination takes place on a basis of cultural, religious, gender, racial and sexual orientation differences (University’s, 2017). As an example, in the US, the problem of salary discrimination touches mostly Black people, Asian people, Hispanic and Latino people (Research, 2018), who earn less than other workers on similar positions. [[3]]

Why does Glass Ceiling still exist?

Professor Marianne Bertrand has been researchingpossible answers to this question. She concluded that there are three key reasons[[4]] why this phenom still exists. Firstly, women with bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees often choose to work in fields that do not offer higher salaries and wages. She found out that about 40 percent of women born in America in 1985 hold college degrees, compared to just under 30 percent of men which didn’t lead to higher salaries among women in that year. Secondly, men and women are different from a psychological aspect. It could account for up to 10 percent of this problem. Furthermore, the willingness to take risks, which is higher among men, helps employees compete for higher paying jobs and negotiate higher salaries. Finally, most women are outside of work due to giving a birth one or more times in their carrier and the time they spend taking care of the children and the household is longer than men’s. That leads to inflexibility which rarely occurs in higher paying jobs. Also, Bertrand's research has also found that when wives earn more than their husbands do, it is difficult on the relationship, and the marriage is more likely to be unhappy or end in divorce.

Glass Ceiling in the past

The proportion of women in the workforce has grown from just over a third of all workers in 1970 to almost half of the total workforce in 2012.In 1981, just 5.6 percent of the top one percent of economic elites were women. By 2012, that figure had risen to 18.3 percent. In the past, there was a tendency for women who did very well one year to fall off the next—a phenomenon that is known as “the paper floor.” Now, the persistence of top-earning females has dramatically increased in the last thirty years, so today the paper floor has been largely mended. Women's educational attainment has also increased from the past, the work they perform has also changed. A larger share of women now works in management, professional, and related occupations. Women's pay has significantly increased over the past three decades. Since 1979, the pay for full-time employed women has increased 31 percent compared to 2 percent for their male counterparts.

Situations across the countries- best and worst cases

Best [[5]]


Icelandic women hold 41.2 percent of managerial positions and 44 percent of board seats. Moreover, paid parental leave is offered to both mothers and fathers — mothers get an average of 16.6 weeks of paid leave while fathers receive about 8.3 weeks on average. It is considered the country with the most gender equality in the world.


Denmark boasts an earnings-related day-care system and offers one of the most flexible parental leave policies in the EU. Furthermore, women in Denmark earn just 7.8 percent less than their male counterparts, which is comparatively good.

New Zealand

In the same InterNations survey, 61 percent of female expats say that they would 'possibly stay forever' in New Zealand due to the renowned work-life balance there. New Zealand also takes the cake for the lowest gender wage gap at just 5.6 percent, and 40 percent of women make up its senior or managerial positions.


Finland has the highest share of women in higher education and the largest female workforce. In fact, 83 percent of women, including mothers, work full time, largely due to the country's system of public childcare.


Even though women’s educational levels are equal to men’s in Jordan, women do not have equal economic opportunities. In fact, the 20 percent unemployment rate among women is more than double that of men, according to the World Bank.

Worst [[6]]


Greece does offer generous maternity leave and childcare costs aren’t too bad, but 'The Economist' ranks the country poorly mostly because of its lack of women in senior positions and on company boards.


Women in Australia are entitled to just 0.6 weeks paid maternity leave, beaten to bottom place only by the United States.


Egypt has no anti-discrimination laws with regards to hiring women, and the law does not mandate equal pay.

How can you break the Glass Ceiling?

1) Don’t procrastinate. Whether it’s a young girl raising her hand in class or a female entrepreneur launching a business idea, women tend to hesitate. All too often, this characteristic holds them back. The most successful women are risk-takers. Rather than waiting until everything is perfectly aligned before acting, they fearlessly dive right in.

2. Recognize that success is plentiful. Some women are convinced that there is a finite amount of power and achievement in the world. The truth is that power and success is not a limited resource—the law of universal abundance guarantees enough for everyone. When women advance, it is not at the expense of men.

3. Eliminate assumptions. Women and men possess unconscious gender biases. Instead of denying them, bring them to light and openly discuss how to minimize them in the workplace. Examine how job descriptions or the selection of candidates to be interviewed for an open position might be contributing to gender bias.

4. Aim high. While men usually dream big, women tend to have more modest goals. Women should be encouraged to express ambition. Everyone should stretch his or her imaginations about the role of women in the workplace, and females should be empowered to strive for executive leadership roles.

5. Build a network. Busy women, who often have care taking responsibilities in addition to careers,tend to avoid after-hours networking events. Networking events should be prioritized in order to foster personal growth. Set a goal to make 10 new connections.

6. Cultivate confidence and a sense of humour. Confidence helps women overcome stereotypes that hold them back. Humor enables them to stay positive and rise above discouraging situations.


Author: Iga Piotrowska, Paula Nejašmić, Katharina Bestvater,Romil Sailot, Shashwat Kalra, Bhavesh Khanal