The phrase “glass ceiling” was coined by Marilyn Loden in 1978. She described out loud the almost invisible barrier between women and success that many face in their careers.
During her own career, she noticed the things that held women back were not personal but placed on them by society. These reasons included women in higher positions making the positions seem less important, the idea that women weren’t breadwinners so they didn’t need higher paying jobs, or many other sexist remarks that hold women back.
Women are now celebrated much more for holding seats on corporate boards and running major companies and are often seen as prominent leaders in businesses. Seeing any women as the face of business would have been unimaginable just fifty years ago.
Despite these better changes, women at the highest levels of business are still rare. The statistics show how little women have really affected business at the top.
The glass ceiling still remains with women being frustrated by the startling statistics of women in business. Only ten percent of senior managers, less than four percent of CEOs, presidents, vice presidents and Chief Operating Officers and less than three percent of top corporate earners are women, according to Harvard Business Review.
Since the seventies when Loden coined the phrase there have been some obvious progressions, but what will it take to finally shatter the glass ceiling?
Revolutions in the past have driven legal action into place to drive out obvious discriminations, but a revolution did not stop the gender discrimination that has been embedded into our world. It is difficult to part ways with how things have always been.
According to the International Labour Organization, almost seventy-five percent of enterprises around the world have equal opportunity or diversity and inclusion policies in place. But just like the laws that are meant to prevent discrimination, these policies do not prevent the internal biases we’ve been taught by the patriarchy.
While it seems what we should be doing is continuing to fight against it, we should not continue trying to “break the glass ceiling.” Women who have broken through these disadvantages or made their way to the tops of companies did so by playing by the rules set by the men that had been holding them back.
What is needed now is to completely wipe the slate clean and start over by including needs and preferences from every gender. The workforce was originally designed around men and everyone else joined after the framework was established and set in stone. Every aspect of working and business was developed with only men in mind.
Women have done incredible work to carve out preferences that benefit them but overall, it’s still a structure that is male-centric. Workplace equality remains rooted in the outdated biases and stereotypes against women. Women have been trying to revolutionize a world they weren’t factored into in the first place.
This doesn’t even include all the biases and issues holding back people who are nonbinary and/or transgender based solely on gender.
The whole concept of a glass ceiling only exists if women continue to play by the rules established by men. Women are locked in a pattern of men giving women permission to progress through life and success.
Creating a whole new system isn’t easy. Starting over never is. But in order for us to truly find some sort of equality or a system that works for everyone, or most people, starting over may be the only option when a patriarchal system is so fundamentally embedded into our society.