Glass Ceiling essay

In this particular literature review, the focus of discussion is on the occurrence of the glass ceiling effect. The central focus of this literature review is on the nonexistence of the said phenomenon in the organizations. Likewise, it is seen that there are several women who have rose to the ranks and showed the world that the glass ceiling effect is not in existence through the achievements attached to them. Lastly, it is shown that discrimination in the workplace exists for both the male and the female employees. The Glass Ceiling Effect

The “glass ceiling,” as a term, first came into existence in 1986 as coined by Carol Hymowitz and Timothy Schellhardt (Chamberlain, 2001). It is used in characterizing the “invisible barrier” that does not allow the women in the organizations to join and occupy the top jobs in the corporate world in the USA (Chamberlain, 2001). The factors that are considered in the said report made by the two authors, entitled “Special report on the Corporate Women,” which are “corporate tradition and prejudice” (Chamberlain, 2001, p.

396). The term has evolved and today, it is formally defined as the “artificial barriers, based on attitudinal or organizational bias, that prevent qualified individuals from advancing upward within their organization into management level positions” (as cited in Kimmel, 2000, p. 186). In this particular concept, it is established that women are not allowed to excel in their professional careers in equal terms with men because of prejudices and stereotypes associated with their femininity (Kimmel, 2000).

Existence of the Glass Ceiling While there are certain literatures that point towards the existence of the glass ceiling effect, it remains that the presence of this particular phenomenon has become lesser or has somehow become permeable. According to Branson (2007), in the sectors of the academe, civil society groups, and public sector, there remain a large percentage of women who are in the top positions such as that of the director.

Likewise, it is asserted that in these particular sectors, the glass ceiling effect is not in existence and even if it does, women are still able to break through this (Branson, 2007). Likewise, it is seen from the arguments of the authors that there are actions being taken to ensure that this particular phenomenon is combated through class action from the end of the women and that success is achieved from such (Branson, 2007). Another perspective is given attention by Browne (2002), which is the underrepresentation of women who are occupying the higher levels of the corporate world.

The glass ceiling effect is seen to be made not of glass but of a permeable substance that actually allows the women to be able to go through it and break it as a barrier for their professional growth (Browne, 2002). It is more likely seen as a “gossamer ceiling” which is defined by Browne (2002) to be the “barrier that women may perceive but that is not strong enough to hold back those who choose to cross it” (p. 36). In cross-cultural terms, there are also differences that are seen for the different cultures at different aspects of the organization.

It is stipulated by Varma (2007), through a research that the glass ceiling does not exactly exist for the Asian Indian scientists and engineers who are immigrants. Thus, it is seen that this does not exactly exist for the technical positions compared to other professions (Varma, 2007). This involves consideration for the position and the culture to which a particular female employee belongs to because there are differences that can be discerned in these respects. Discrimination for Both Men and Women Does Exist

There are several arguments that hold discrimination to be a factor that exists only for particular groups of people in the society. However, this is not true and on the contrary, it is seen that it exists even for those who are considered to be given the advantage because of certain characteristics that this particular group/individual has. in fact, it is stated by DelPo and Guerin (2007) that “even white men can make a successful discrimination change if they can prove that they were treated differently because of their race or gender” (p. 50).

The authors considered the scenario wherein a company decides to terminate the male employees to give way for the female applicants and stated that this still remains as a ground for a lawsuit against discrimination. It is seen that indeed, discrimination still proves to be a phenomenon that is not bias nor is pervasive among a particular group of individuals but is rather a possibility for everyone. It is seen by Robinson (2003) that both men and women have the same capabilities with the exception that men exhibit more upper-body strength than women do and should have equal treatment in light of this.

There is the notion that there is no difference between what the other gender can do and both have their complementary attributes that render them to be suitable for different positions in the organization. Women with Power There are several women that can be cited that have been able to break through the barriers that are exhibited by the glass ceiling effect. This is well-captured in the online article provided by Egan and Schoenberger (2008) entitled “The world’s most powerful women” that is published in the website of Forbes Magazine.

The article shows that there are signs that indicate hope for women as the fifth annual ranking shows that women are able to take the lead positions (Egan and Schoenberger, 2008). Likewise, the women for the said ranking is bestowed the control of resources that amount to $26 trillion worldwide (Egan and Schoenberger, 2008). In the said list, the person occupying the top position is German Chancellor Angela Merkel and is followed by Sheila Bair, who is the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (Egan and Schoenberger, 2008).

These women have proven that the female population are able to surpass barriers if any and prove that in their respective fields, it does not exist for the kind of courage and determination that they held. Conclusion The glass ceiling effect is a phenomenon that poses barriers for women in achieving the height of their career. There are several arguments that are raised in opposition to the existence of such in the different aspects. There are considerations in terms of the culture and the positions that are being referred to for there are differences in the perspectives of such.

Lastly, there are women who have shown that the glass ceiling effect does not exist through the achievements that they have.


Branson, D. (2007). No seat at the table. USA: New York University Press. Browne, K. (2002). Biology at work: Rethinking sexual equality. NJ: Rutgers University Press. Chamberlain, M. (2001). “Glass Ceiling. ” In J. Peterson & M. Lewis (Eds. ), The Elgar companion to feminist economics (pp. 396-401). UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited. DelPo, A. & Guerin, L. (2007). Dealing with problem employees: A legal guide.

Berkeley, CA: Nolo. Egan, M. & Schoenberger, C. (2008). The world’s most powerful women. Retrieved November 29, 2008, from http://www. forbes. com/2008/08/27/most-powerful-women-biz-powerwomen08-cz_me_cs_0827intro. html Kimmel, M. (2000). The gendered society. NY: Oxford University Press. Robinson, D. (2003). A legal and ethical handbook for ending discrimination in the workplace. USA: Paulist Press. Varma, R. (2007). Harbingers of global change: India’s techno-immigrants in the United States. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.