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Career management: Women and the Glass Ceiling

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  1. Introduction
  2. The glass ceiling or non-fit between business needs and aspirations of women managers
    1. The glass ceiling: a barrier to career progression of women managers
    2. The glass ceiling, a form of vertical discrimination
    3. The walls of glass, a horizontal merger
    4. Wage disparities
  3. Recognition of skills: differential treatment
    1. Skill enhancement of males
    2. A differentiated access to employment
  4. The glass ceiling: A limit to the interests of the company
    1. Women's contribution to human performance
    2. Women's contribution to business performance
    3. Women's contribution to financial performance
  5. The glass ceiling, a construction beyond the walls of the company
    1. Organizational causes of the glass ceiling
    2. The lack of sponsorship
    3. Weak networks
  6. A traditionally male culture
  7. The so-called "lack of careerism" of women
  8. Social causes of the glass ceiling
    1. The difficulty of reconciling work and family
    2. Women confined to predefined roles in society
    3. The "self-censorship" of women
  9. Towards a better management of the glass ceiling
    1. The statutory equality sought by professionals
    2. The basic legislation
    3. Incentives for companies to act
    4. The Equality Label
  10. Support the "glass ceiling" by the company
    1. Approach
    2. Different policies to promote women
    3. Action plans
    4. Childcare
    5. Universal service employment checks (CESU)
    6. Maternity and paternity
    7. The organization of working time
  11. Conclusion

There has been an increase in the participation of women in the professional world today. They are becoming increasingly qualified and skilled. However, this increase in opportunity has not led them into illusions and they do not consider themselves lucky. They do not compare their situation to those of their mothers and feel content, but instead compare their situation to their male counterparts.

What follows is an astounding reality that there is still an enormous amount of inequality in the work place in terms of the professional treatment that women get. Statistics show that a woman's ascension to a post in senior management is still rare, and that it happens at a much slower rate than normal. If women are becoming increasingly qualified, and their recruitment is important, it also follows that they should get their fair share of promotions. However, their career is stagnated below the managerial positions.

Even from a hierarchical point of view, the inequality in treatment in the professional world has been increasing dramatically. So, it is becoming quite a feat for a woman to manage her career. In artistic terms, the obstacles on a woman's path to progress in her career can be compared to a glass ceiling.

Just like how a glass ceiling is not a visible obstacle, invisible and artificial barriers created by attitudinal and organizational prejudices limit a woman's access to higher responsibilities. Thus, women can only fulfil a very small portion of their career aspirations.

Career management tends to fit somewhere between the business needs of the company and the aspirations of employees. In this case, the glass ceiling is clearly an obstacle placed in the career path of women executives. After knowing this, the question that arises is: How best can the glass ceiling be managed so that women too can reach higher positions in the company?

Women represent 46% of the workforce, but only 7% of them are senior managers in the 5000 largest French companies. These percentages are indicative of the very low presence of women past a certain threshold, hierarchical, and are corroborated by other studies such as the Staff Guide, which lists only seven female CEOs at the head of the 400 French companies (including two heiresses who are and should be as their status to their father).

Studies conducted by the association of female action also show the gross imbalance on the distribution of the workforce, particularly within the boards of directors in 2005, only 31 women held 37 of the 571 seats of the directors.

The horizontal concentration is also observed for women executives,and in this situation "glass walls" that one speaks of, is when they find it difficult to slip on top of the pyramid, they are often grouped into chains or services considered to be less central and less strategic.

In general, they are concentrated in female-dominated jobs and in positions of less skilled service sector. Thus, they often have access to the functions of communication (70% women), personal relationships (62% women) and to a lesser extent the functions of accounting and financial management (47% women), so that they are much less present in the business functions (30% women) and are virtually absent from the production functions (11% women only).

Tags: Career management; women and careers; the glass ceiling

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