Glass Ceiling – How Women Are Breaking The Glass

Glass Ceiling

Some may argue that glass ceiling is a myth.

She is short, she is big

She is tall, she is slim

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You make me feel like just a thing

Like I have no right to just be me

Love me or not, I’ll still be me…

The above is an excerpt from a poem I wrote a while back, and stumbling on it again got me thinking about this issue called “glass ceiling”. The concept of glass ceiling has been in existence as far back as the nineties. Many people employ terms such as racial discrimination, gender discrimination, cultural barriers, and many more, but there are a lot of people that argue that glass ceiling is not the same as these terms.

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Glass Ceiling

Glass ceiling is used in business or workplace to describe or explain the barriers that impede the promotion and progress of women irrespective of their skills and qualifications. The question is, does is it really exist? Or is it simply another grammatical term coined to cause arguments and disagreements. How does it present itself? Are all women victims of glass ceiling?

To say all women are victims of glass ceiling would be too huge a generalization for me. Going by the opinions of a few women within my society, most seem to agree that glass ceiling is indeed real. These women attest that they have all been on the receiving end of this menace at one point in time or the other.

The impediments are seemingly hierarchical in nature, meaning the higher you go in your career or workplace, the higher the chances that you will encounter these barriers. These barriers are evident in the type and nature of jobs available to women as compared to their male counterparts, the ratio of males to females on the executive level or on the board of directors of many companies, the salary structure of females as compared to their male counterparts and many more.

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Despite the assertions of women that they have a hard time facing this issue of glass ceiling, it is still seen by some as unreal and impenetrable. There are also arguments that these assertions are merely exaggerations. Their view is that the glass ceiling being claimed by many female individuals are just consequences of the choices made by women as regards their families and childbearing. They argue that the time spent on their families and also the time taken off in bearing and rearing of children is simply the reason why women cannot fully advance in their chosen careers, unlike their male counterparts.

Supporters of this argument believe that women can advance to the peak positions of their career if they want to, but duties/responsibilities/challenges at the home front oftentimes create the barrier to their advancement. Because women are the primary caregivers for their family both nuclear and extended; doubts are always cast on the availability of the woman to do a job and perform effectively.

Moreover, most jobs or organizations are not structured in such a way to allow for external or personal commitments. It becomes tougher for women to get time out. If they do, they end up missing out on some cherished child/family moments. Along the way, it is argued that these women choose their families over career eventually. There is also the general belief that women lead or exhibit an entirely different leadership style. This belief is founded on the premise that women import emotions into decision making and judgments.

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On all fronts, however – locally and internationally, it’s been recognized that the women population remains a highly underutilized source of skill and leadership in the workplace, and in business. To this end, some countries are starting to embrace more women-friendly policies in their government and organizations.

Countries like the United States, New Zealand, and Finland have seen women attaining heights which were assumed to be ordinarily deemed for men. The existence of glass ceiling and its effects is also increasingly seeing more women tend towards entrepreneurship and becoming business owners.

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This move into becoming entrepreneurs is giving women more avenues for expression, recognition, and authority. Increasingly more women are paving ways for themselves, building multi-billion naira/dollar companies, and earning their space among the stakeholders of the economy.

My take is that, for as many women who claim to be victims of glass ceiling effect, there are also many more that have surpassed these barriers through hard work, dedication, and consistency. The truth is glass can be broken, so there isn’t such a thing as impenetrable, it might only take double or even triple the effort.

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