Legal Law

Non-traditional occupations for women: breaking the glass ceiling in corporations

The glass ceiling is a term that has come to mean a barrier to the advancement of women in the workplace. Believe it or not, this quarter celebrates its 30th anniversary this year! The term was created by diversity consultant Marilyn Loden in a 1978 presentation at the Women’s Action Alliance Conference, to “describe the invisible barriers to advancement that many female managers still face.” Thirty years later, women are still banging their heads against the glass ceiling, whether they’re trying to rise through the administrative ranks or carve out a niche in the blue-collar professions.

It can be argued that Sarah Palin’s nomination for vice presidential candidate on the Republican list with John McCain is evidence that the glass ceiling is cracking. But she is the first female candidate on a national ballot since Geraldine Ferraro was Walter Mondale’s vice-presidential partner in 1984. There has not yet been a woman on the ballot for the office of President of the United States, although Hillary Clinton made a historic run. . in this year’s position. And while women have yet to reach the highest political position in the United States, they have made some progress in the highest positions in the corporate world.

According to Fortune magazine, the number of female CEOs at FORTUNE 1000 has risen from 19 in 2005 to 24 in 2008. Yet that is still only 2.4% of the top corporate positions held by women. A large study (of 10,000 senior executives at nearly 1,000 companies) published by researchers at the Tuck School of Business and Loyola University, concluded that the number of female CEOs likely won’t increase significantly until at least 2016, depending on the number. women currently in the senior executive portfolio. The researchers found that in 48% of the largest firms in the United States, there were no women in positions of responsibility, and that women constituted only a token presence in many of the other firms. The researchers project that the percentage of CEO positions held by women will increase from 1.7% to 4.9% in 2010 and to 6.2% in 2016 from the 2000 level.

If those projections hold up, the number of women running large corporations will remain quite low, even for another eight years! So, you may be thinking, what does it mean to have women in leadership positions and why is it important?

In her book “The Female Advantage,” author Sally Helgesen describes the changes in the corporate world as we move from an industrial age to a technological age, and states that women are particularly well suited to the type of corporate hierarchy required for business. it was fast-moving technology. She describes this more modern type of hierarchy as an “inclusive network”, as opposed to the old top-down authoritarian chain of command.

Imagine a network, with the leader at the center, reaching everyone through this “network of inclusion.” In a web hierarchy, the leader can create a more democratic and empowered organization that communicates more quickly and works more effectively, compared to a top-down hierarchy. On the web, strong relationships are emphasized. Helgesen argues that women adapt particularly well to this type of corporate structure, due to its “feminine principles,” which include an emphasis on building relationships, sharing information, treating others with respect, and thinking about the larger group, not just themselves.

As the corporate workplace continues to accelerate and globalize, and become increasingly multigenerational, the need for a different style of leadership will become increasingly important. Women are well prepared for that role.

Koval Associates LLC

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