The Glass Ceiling Effect

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Glass ceiling concept originally depicted women’s blocked promotion opportunities in a companies. Later this concept was applied to the ethnic minorities.  Glass Ceiling effects is a term used to refer to invisible barriers that limit minorities or women advancement in organization hierarchy. This barrier confronts minorities and women in their effort to reach higher management levels in many organizations. Glass ceiling is different from formal barriers such experience requirements and educations which greatly determines an employee advancement in the organization. According to Glass Ceiling Commission established by the U.S. Department of Labor Glass ceiling are artificial barriers based on attitudinal or organizational bias that prevent qualified individuals from advancing upward in their organization into management-level positions’. The aspects of the race and gender have continued to influence corporations hiring, promotion, job assignment at all education levels- subtle gender and racial discrimination still exist. In some cases, glass ceiling has been in form of discrimination such as sexism. Additionally, it has also been evident in performance evaluations as well as salary and benefits systems. (Burke & Martis 2007 p130; Morrison etal 1987; Dubek.1979)

Previous studies assert that glass ceiling effect is greatly witnessed by well educated labor force as compared to the less educated or skilled ones. According to Federal Glass Ceiling Commission 95-97% of senior managers in fortune 1000 industrial and Fortune 500 are male, 97% are white, while the ethnic minorities and women contributed to 57% of the workforce. The study also found there were great remuneration disparities among Hispanic, Asian Americans who held comparable positions. Additionally it was found that African Americans earned 21% less as compared to their white counterparts. (Hester 2007; Department of Labor USA 2010; Becker 1997; Schuler 2003)

In their study where they studied data from panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine gender and race inequalities, Cotter etal (2001) found out that there existed glass ceiling effects for women, but found no similar pattern on racial inequalities among men. They also asserted that not all systems of differential work systems depict glass ceilings.

B. How Women Are Affected by The Glass Ceiling Effect.

The historical believes that men are more worthy than women continues to intimidate women efforts in proving this wrong. The fact that the Citigroup Inc. board of directors constitutes of men only is a clear indication how the Glass Ceiling effect has adversely affected women effort to reach a higher level of management in many corporations. Women face sexism based discrimination in many organizations, both profit and non profit organizations as well as in government sector. A board of directors, constituting of men only, shows how this company has continued to dwell in olds days where men are considered more capable than women. The Glass ceiling effect has continued to place barriers against women endeavor in achieving success in their careers and participation in their work place. Despite women having a great contribution to the economy they have continued to face the Green Ceiling barriers that have hindered their effort to be managers and CEOs to big companies in the world.  Generally, women lag behind in terms of reward and promotion as compared to their men counterparts as it is clear with the management in the Citigroup Inc. The Glass Ceiling barriers placed by organizations, which are usually led by men, can be blamed for this undesirable condition. (Reynolds1999: Cotter etal 2001)

Women have not been able to realize their potential in their work places since they are not offered equal chances as compared to their men counterparts who enjoy great opportunities in organizations. A decision made by men only is likely to ignore the interests of women in the organization. This adversely affects their performance in business since they only get limited chances to learn, and limited job assignments that will enhance their skills. Low skills and experience lowers their productivity. (Reynolds1999: Cotter etal 2001)

The Glass Ceiling effect has also affected women career development plans. The unwillingness of many corporations to offer them with opportunities that will enhance their experience, educate them in line with their career plans, can be cited as the main cause of this problem. Women are perceived as people who are incapable of being good leaders in the organizations. This limits their chances of developing and achieving their career objectives. Consequently, their competitiveness has remained low as compared to their men counterparts. (Reynolds1999: Cotter etal 2001; Gable 1993; Burke & Mattis (2007).

Glass Ceiling effect has greatly affected women participation in business environment. There exists a great disproportion in number of women involved in economic activities as compared to the value they add to economy. The Glass Ceiling effect has led to women having less knowledge and experience on how to manage certain businesses. This has been a disincentive to them as far as starting and running their own business is concerned.

(Reynolds1999: Cotter etal 2001; Klenken 2004)

C. Glass Ceiling effect On Minorities.

In USA, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Asian and Pacific Islanders Americans, African Americans are some of the minority groups. The issues surrounding Glass Ceiling effect tend to vary widely as per every racial and ethnic minority background. Glass Ceiling effect has greatly hindered advancement of workers from these groups to high level positions of authority and responsibility in corporate America.  Minorities’ participation in business, education and in government spheres has been lagging behind as compared to that of White Americans. Many corporate on employing workers from the minority groups, they prefer to place them in highly specific technical or staff positions rather than managerial levels which can be a stepping stone to a top level management position. Despite many corporate stating to be committed to supporting inclusive hiring and promotion policies, they are reluctant to implement them in their corporations.  Participation of minorities in private sector has also been very low as compared to how they have been participating in government and non profit sector. However, it still worrying that people from these groups continues to have limited chances for career promotion as compared to their white counterparts who has comparable qualifications. .(Federal Glass Ceiling Commission report1996 ;Walsh 2001)

The Glass Ceiling effect also affects the minorities’ workers relationship with their colleagues at work place. In some corporations there exist poor relationship between minorities and their white counterparts. This adversely affects their morale, career success and satisfaction at work place. In such an environment where workers perceive they are not valued and not motivated, their performance is adversely affected. The minority also face prejudices, biases and stereotypical views from the white colleagues who may feel threatened by the minorities’ success at work place. Minorities have also not been able to access resources available in their workplace for the development of their careers. Most of them have been unable to access the relevant information about career success which should be provided to all employees. The psychohistorical and psychosocial factors have played a great role on this issue. (Federal Glass Ceiling Commission 1995a ;Walsh 2001; McGuire etal 1996)


It is apparent that the Glass Ceiling effect has continued to be practiced by many big organizations in the world. Citigroup Inc. has not been exceptional. Despite its efforts to promote women and minority hiring, it still has a long way to go and allow workers from these groups to be part of the top management. There is also a need for all corporations’ leaders to have a will to combat this practice. They should appreciate that the minorities and women are equally capable as compared to the white and men counterparts.