Oh, the glass ceiling. In 2010, only 3% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are women, just 25% of University Professors are women, and only 6% of women are among the highest paid employees of Fortune 500 companies.
The Rady School of Management at University of California San Diego (where I got my MBA) is a member of the National Association of Women MBA’s (NAWMBA), an association dedicated to empowering female business professionals to propel more women into leadership positions in corporate America and to enhance the diversity of the nation’s workforce. While I was in business school, I attended a brunch with a great group of businesswomen and UCSD MBA alumni.
We also had a special guest from the Committee of 200, an organization of the world’s most successful women entrepreneurs and corporate leaders. With our special guest and all of our cumulative experiences, we discussed the challenges, situations, and obstacles that businesswomen face today.
At this meeting, I learned some shocking statistics of women in the workplace. Women are getting more graduate degrees than men, BUT we are only holding 18% of leadership positions across the ten sectors of politics, business, law, sports, academia, journalism, religion, film/TV, nonprofit, and military. Time and time again we are hitting our heads against the glass ceiling.
The Good News About the Glass Ceiling
We were encouraged at our meeting that to get through this glass ceiling, we need to increase our network and ask other women for help. Women need to have connections for credible introductions into industry associations and companies. We, as women, need to learn from each other’s experiences and network, network, network just like our male counterparts.
A recent article from the Washington Post says, “The sacrifices women must make to ascend the leadership ranks are still disproportionate to those made by their male peers. The lack of flexibility and childcare in the U.S. is not improving fast enough to allow the numbers of women stuck in the pipeline to really ascend. Instead, women remain in lower positions or opt-out completely from the workforce. In either case, the pool of ideas, talent, and experience among our decision makers shrinks.”
What We Need to Break Through the Glass Ceiling
As the article above stated, most importantly, we need a cultural shift that values the unique leadership traits and diverse perspectives that both genders – men and women — bring to the table, and a commitment to having them work side-by-side to tackle the challenges we collectively face.
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Do you ever feel that you are bumping your head on the glass ceiling?