Glass Ceiling

"Glass ceiling" is a symbolic term for the existence of an invisible line in the hierarchical structures of working life above which it is difficult for women to rise (Auster, 1993; Kauppinen-Toropainen, 1994; Wirth, 2001). Auster (1993) claims that the glass ceiling is a gender bias that occurs all the time and takes many forms. Women encounter both internal and external obstacles in their careers. It has been easier for a woman to reach a middle-management position in an organization than to rise to the very top management. However, if she does that, she is still a "loner," that is, the only or almost only representative of her own sex (Kauppinen-Toropainen, 1987).

The reasons why there are so few women in management positions, and especially in top management, have been addressed by many researchers (e.g., Acker, 1992; Auster, 1993; Izraeli & Adler, 1994; Oakley, 2000; Powell, 2000; Vanhala, 2002). Though researchers categorize the reasons differently, most divide them as societal, organizational, behavioral, and psychological. Izraeli and Adler (1994) use three main perspectives to explain the fact that women are underrepresented among the levels of management. The first perspective concentrates on individual-level differences; it claims that the paucity of women in management is due to behavioral characteristics and personal traits. Men's characteristics and behavior have been taken as a norm, thus making it hard for women to enter male-dominated areas. Auster

(1993) argues that in order for women to be successful in organizations, they have to be very self-conscious of their own behavior and keep constant control of what they are saying and how they are acting. Oakley (2000) claims that women in middle- and lower-management positions often play down their femininity and instead adopt a masculine style to increase credibility.

According to Izraeli and Adler's second perspective, organizational context, an organization's culture and way of treating women often shapes attitudes and behavior more than an individual manager's behavior. Powell (2000) makes a similar point by arguing that women's entry into top management positions is influenced by the way decision-making is structured in an organization and whether the decision-makers can be held accountable for the decisions they make. Eyring and Stead (1998) claim that women's underrepresentation in management is due to the fact that men prefer supporting people like themselves to top positions in organizations.

The third perspective, institutional discrimination, claims that organizations are not gender neutral and that this fact leads to gender discrimination. Izraeli and Adler

(1994) and Gherardi (1995) argue that gender discrimination forms of part of managers' basic assumptions about society and organizational culture. Powell (2000) refers to the same phenomenon as a societal factor; men are more taken aback by women in top positions than in lower positions, since men have traditionally had the higher status in society. He claims that this norm is reinforced in subtle ways, for instance, in stereotypes of what makes a good leader. Izraeli and Adler also bring forward a fourth perspective that focuses on senior managers' greater ability to influence, and limit, women's access to top positions. They argue that societal and organizational institutions that privilege men have persisted simply because senior managers do not want competition or change. Senior executives are more able than lower-level managers to protect their sphere of influence from outsiders. This explains why women have succeeded in entering the lower levels of management, but, once in, have failed to move up into senior management.

Green et al. (1997) claim that built-in societal structures, such as women's role in children's upbringing and maternity, may help to explain why husbands do not support their wives' careers in the same way that women support men's careers by doing most of the child care and housework (Auster, 1993). In many societies there appears to be a tendency for high-level positions to be occupied mainly by married men with children, while women in the same type of positions tend to be single, divorced, and childless (Hewlett, 2002; Vanhala, 2002; Woodward, 1996). Women often have to make more sacrifices in their personal lives than men do. Many toplevel jobs require long and antisocial working hours that preclude many women with children. According to Vanhala (2002), women still carry most of the responsibility for housework in dual-career families, and thus it is the woman's career that suffers more than the man's. The same applies to families where both parents are in top positions. Even as a manager, the woman still has a greater responsibility over the family.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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