Two decades ago, people began using the “glass ceiling” catchphrase to describe organizations’ failure to promote women into top leadership roles. Eagly and Carli, of Northwestern University and Wellesley College, argue in this article (based on a forthcoming book from Harvard Business School Press) that the metaphor has outlived its usefulness. In fact, it leads managers to overlook interventions that would attack the problem at its roots, wherever it occurs. A labyrinth is a more fitting image to help organizations understand and address the obstacles to women’s progress.
Rather than depicting just one absolute barrier at the penultimate stage of a distinguished career, a labyrinth conveys the complexity and variety of challenges that can appear along the way. Passage through a labyrinth requires persistence, awareness of one’s progress, and a careful analysis of the puzzles that lie ahead. Routes to the center exist but are full of twists and turns, both expected and unexpected.
Vestiges of prejudice against women, issues of leadership style and authenticity, and family responsibilities are just a few of the challenges. For instance, married mothers now devote even more time to primary child care per week than they did in earlier generations (12.9 hours of close interaction versus 10.6), despite the fact that fathers, too, put in a lot more hours than they used to (6.5 versus 2.6). Pressures for intensive parenting and the increasing demands of most high-level careers have left women with very little time to socialize with colleagues and build professional networks—that is, to accumulate the social capital that is essential to managers who want to move up.
The remedies proposed—such as changing the long-hours culture, using open-recruitment tools, and preparing women for line management with appropriately demanding assignments—are wide ranging, but together they have a chance of achieving leadership equity in our time. Read More
Though companies now invest heavily in mentoring and developing their best female talent, all that attention doesn’t translate into promotions. A Catalyst survey of over 4,000 high potentials shows that more women than men have mentors—yet women are paid $4,600 less in their first post-MBA jobs, hold lower-level positions, and feel less career satisfaction.
To better understand why, the authors conducted in-depth interviews with 40 participants in a mentoring program at a large multinational. All mentoring is not created equal, they discovered. Only sponsorship involves advocacy for advancement. The interviews and survey alike indicate that, compared with their male peers, high-potential women are overmentored, undersponsored, and not advancing in their organizations. Without sponsorship, women not only are less likely than men to be appointed to top roles but may also be more reluctant to go for them.
Organizations such as Deutsche Bank, Unilever, Sodexo, and IBM Europe have established sponsorship programs to facilitate the promotion of high-potential women. Programs that get results clarify and communicate their goals, match sponsors and mentees on the basis of those goals, coordinate corporate and regional efforts, train sponsors, and hold those sponsors accountable. Read More
New research by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. yields some disturbing findings about women's prospects for advancement in the workplace.
Though women and men say they want to be promoted in about equal numbers (75% and 78% respectively), women are significantly less likely to make it to the next tier in their organization. Read More
In this groundbreaking comprehensive analysis, based on more than twenty-five years of in-depth surveys involving 100,000 men and women across dozens of Fortune 500 companies, Barbara Annis and Keith Merron provide a deeper understanding of the multiplicity of forces that have combined to create and perpetuate gender inequality. Gender Intelligence exposes common false assumptions that prevent men and women from successfully performing together at work—myths exacerbated by worn-out theories of gender blindness and sameness thinking. It show how a small but growing number of courageous, leading-edge companies have broken through the barriers to successfully advance women, making the remarkable transformation from compliance to choice—from pressure to preference—and show how it can be done in any business. Read More
by Glenn Llopis, for Forbes
Based on his own personal experience growing up in a matriarchal family, Glenn highlights the key Leadership Traits that women naturally possess and how these can be better leveraged to serve women in the workplace. He also references a previous post that discusses how women are natural leaders given their multiple roles and responsibilities that make them "the masters of opportunity management" in the workplace.
"The best women leaders I know have circular vision that enables them to be well-rounded people. For example, they have their finger on the pulse of the culture and can talk to you about the latest pop-culture news – but then easily switch gears to give you their perspective on what is taking place on Wall Street. Women leaders seeking a chance to be significant see the world through a lens of opportunity; they are especially in search of those opportunities previously unseen (perhaps this is why the women I know enjoy a good treasure hunt)."
by Judith Warner, The New York Times
This is an interesting follow up article to"The Opt Out Revolution" (2000) , an article about successful professional women who decided to "opt-out" to exercise one's right to decide (and afford) to become a stay-at-home parent. This article candidly looks at their lives ten years later examines where these women are now and the outcomes of their original decision to leave the workforce. Read More
by Debora L. Spar, The Chronicle Review
Debora provides insights on why "Women need to realize that having it all means giving something up—choosing which piece of the perfect picture to relinquish, or rework, or delay." ..."No man can do that, either; no human can. Yet women are repeatedly berating themselves for failing at this kind of balancing act, and (quietly, invidiously) berating others when something inevitably slips." Read More
by Maria Smith, Architectural Review(2/14/14)
Trying to tackle a complex issue is noble. But the set of solutions offered unfortunately don't address the depth of the challenges that women are facing: socioeconomic, biases, personal work/life flexibility challenges plaguing the modern family. See below for a counterpoint by Vanessa Quirk for Archdaily.
"Women in architecture. There, I said it. Whether you’re in the ‘why do we need to talk about this, I just want to be good at my job’ camp or the ‘we must do more to bring our backward profession up to the 21st-century standards it lags so embarrassingly behind’ camp, ‘Women in Architecture’ is probably a phrase that irks. I waver daily between those camps but I am firmly in the ‘get involved or stop whinging’ camp so, here we go: why do women leave architecture?"