There comes a point in a successful woman’s career when she just cannot see what exactly is stopping her from getting to the next level. She has hit the Glass Ceiling! She can feel the block but she cannot see it as the name suggest it is like walking into a glass door because of its transparency. BAMMM!!! The funny thing is that even the people creating these barriers are not aware that they are just being controlled by their unconscious biases- instinctive, underlying beliefs about ethnicity, gender, age, sexuality, social class, religion, and so on. This may be largely unintentional. How does one fight this one? Let’s understand this more.
Think about a 48year old woman who just interviewed for a CEO position at an Organization. The man who conducts the interview, unconsciously believes that women can never give their 100 percent to their careers because they have kids and husbands and families to take care of and also because they are emotional beings. You think the woman, highly qualified with 22 years of rich experience, will get this job? No, a man with lesser qualifications and experience might still have a better chance. There goes the woman’s chance to showcase her talent and to give her 100 percent to the job in question, all just because of what the man thinks about professional women.
The Glass Ceiling is a metaphor that puts light on the unseen barriers that women and minorities have to face in their careers while trying to move up the ladder. It has nothing to do with talent, skill levels and ambitions and has everything to do with biases that are unconscious.
Organizations still have men occupying most of the executive positions and other positions of power even though more attention is being given to these unseen barriers now.
It is time to break these unseen and mostly unknown barriers for yourself and for other women that are preventing professional growth of women.
Breaking the ceiling will be easier if-
- It is recognised and acknowledged that it exists. We should be aware of what’s stopping us to get to where we want or need to be. Identifying the barrier is the first step.
- The awareness of its existence frustrates you and irritates your ambitious self. Use this frustration, channelise it to showcase the barriers in the organisation. It’s a tough one since these barriers usually have been created by people in power of taking decisions and high up in the hierarchy.
- The ambition in you is strong enough for you to be patient and assertive at the same time. If you give up rather than making your way through the barriers tactfully, because the fire is low, it will not help the cause.
- You speak about it to the right set of people and find solutions like trainings and awareness programs.
If, after deliberate and consistent efforts, you are still fighting the unseen barriers, it might be time for you to look for a change. Maybe a better Organization that allows you to grow without any hurdles.
In order to retain talented and skilled women employees, it is imperative for Organizations also to recognise these glass ceilings and take action by exploring ways to make sure the ceiling is removed by offering bias trainings and other support to the employees.