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Glass ceiling by Marilyn Loden

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

The term "glass ceiling" is used to describe an invisible barrier that prevents certain groups of people, typically women and minorities, from advancing in their careers and reaching high-level positions within organizations or industries.

This barrier can take many forms, such as discriminatory hiring practices, limited access to training and development programs, lack of mentorship opportunities, and biased promotion decisions. As a result, qualified individuals may find themselves stuck in lower-level positions, unable to break through to higher levels of leadership and responsibility.


In fact, a glass ceiling is a metaphor usually applied to women, used to represent an invisible barrier that prevents a given demographic from rising beyond a certain level in a hierarchy. No matter how invisible the glass ceiling is expressed, it is actually a difficult obstacle to overcome. It was coined by Marilyn Loden during a speech in 1978.


Marilyn Loden is credited with coining the term "glass ceiling" in the context of women's career advancement. Loden, a consultant and executive coach, first used the term in a 1978 speech to the Women's Action Alliance, a feminist organization based in New York.


In her speech (1978), Loden described the "glass ceiling" as an invisible barrier that prevented women from advancing to higher levels of leadership and responsibility in their careers. She argued that this barrier was not due to lack of qualifications or ability on the part of women, but rather to systemic biases and discrimination within organizations.


Loden's concept of the glass ceiling resonated with many women, who had experienced firsthand the challenges of trying to break through to top leadership positions in their fields. The term became widely used in discussions of gender inequality in the workplace, and it helped to bring attention to the ongoing challenges faced by women in advancing their careers.


  1. In Europe, women make up 52% of the population, but only 30% of managers and 6% of CEOs in the largest companies.

  2. The gender pay gap in the European Union (EU) is 14.1%, meaning that women earn on average 86 cents for every euro earned by men.

  3. In terms of political representation, women occupy only 32% of seats in the European Parliament and hold just 14% of ministerial positions in EU member states.

  4. Women are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields in Europe, with only 17% of ICT (information and communication technology) professionals and 34% of science and engineering graduates being women.

  5. Women are also disproportionately affected by precarious employment, including part-time work and temporary contracts, which can limit their opportunities for career advancement.

The glass ceiling is a global phenomenon, and European women also face significant challenges in advancing to leadership positions in their respective countries. Here are some facts and figures about the glass ceiling for European women:

  1. In Europe, women make up 52% of the population, but only 30% of managers and 6% of CEOs in the largest companies.

  2. The gender pay gap in the European Union (EU) is 14.1%, meaning that women earn on average 86 cents for every euro earned by men.

  3. In terms of political representation, women occupy only 32% of seats in the European Parliament and hold just 14% of ministerial positions in EU member states.

  4. Women are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields in Europe, with only 17% of ICT (information and communication technology) professionals and 34% of science and engineering graduates being women.

  5. Women are also disproportionately affected by precarious employment, including part-time work and temporary contracts, which can limit their opportunities for career advancement.

These figures demonstrate that the glass ceiling is a significant challenge for women in Europe, and much work needs to be done to achieve gender parity in leadership positions across industries and sectors. Efforts to address the gender pay gap, increase political representation, promote gender diversity in STEM fields, and combat precarious employment can help to break down the barriers that prevent women from reaching their full potential in the workplace.


Entrepreneurial women also face the glass ceiling, which can limit their access to funding, networks, and other resources needed to start and grow their businesses. Here are some facts and figures about the glass ceiling for women entrepreneurs:

  1. Women-owned businesses represent only 36% of all businesses worldwide, and they tend to be smaller and less profitable than businesses owned by men.

  2. Women entrepreneurs often face difficulty accessing funding, with studies showing that they receive only 2-3% of venture capital funding globally.

  3. Women-owned businesses also tend to have smaller networks, limiting their access to mentors, advisors, and potential customers.

  4. Women entrepreneurs are more likely to face gender-based discrimination and harassment in the startup ecosystem, including in pitch meetings and networking events.

  5. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected women entrepreneurs, with many facing challenges accessing government support and managing the increased caregiving responsibilities associated with the pandemic.

Despite these challenges, there are many successful women entrepreneurs who have broken through the glass ceiling and achieved significant success in their respective industries. Efforts to address the gender gap in access to funding, promote gender diversity in startup ecosystems, and provide support for women entrepreneurs can help to break down the barriers that prevent women from reaching their full potential as business leaders.


Today, the glass ceiling remains a persistent issue for women, and efforts to address it continue to be a focus of advocacy and research. Loden's contribution to the conversation around gender and career advancement has been significant, and her concept of the glass ceiling has helped to raise awareness of the barriers that prevent women from reaching their full potential in the workplace.


In addition to coining the term "glass ceiling," Loden has also been a leading advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. She has worked with organizations around the world to develop strategies for promoting diversity and inclusion, and has written extensively on the topic.

Loden's contributions have been instrumental in advancing the conversation on workplace diversity and highlighting the need for systemic change to address the barriers faced by underrepresented groups in

the workforce.


Curator Munllonch

Pic by Marilyn Loden.



Bibliography

  • Feminine Leadership, or, How to Succeed in Business Without Being One of the Boys. New York: Times Books, 1985. ISBN 0812912403 OCLC 12133597

  • and Judy B Rosener. Workforce America!: Managing Employee Diversity As a Vital Resource. Homewood, Ill.: Business One Irwin, 1991. ISBN 1556233868 OCLC 22207635

  • Implementing Diversity. Chicago: Irwin Professional, 1996. ISBN 078630460X OCLC 32704873


References

  1. BusinessNews Publishing (2013). Summary: Full Frontal PR: Review and Analysis of Laermer and Prichinello's Book. Primento. p. 6. ISBN 9782806243027.

  2. Marilyn Loden On Feminine Leadership. Pelican Bay Post. May 2011.

  3. "100 Women: 'Why I invented the glass ceiling phrase'". BBC News. December 12, 2017. Retrieved December 12, 2017.

  4. Jump up to:a b c Green, Penelope (September 3, 2022). "Marilyn Loden, Who Championed a Feminist Metaphor, Dies at 76". The New York Times. Retrieved September 4, 2022.

  5. "BBC 100 Women 2017: Who is on the list?". BBC News. November 1, 2017. Retrieved March 17, 2021.

  6. "Marilyn Loden". Napa Valley Register. St. Helena, California. Retrieved August 22, 2022.

  7. "Women in Business: The State of Play" report by McKinsey & Company: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/gender-equality/women-in-the-workplace-2021

  8. "The Global Gender Gap Report" by the World Economic Forum: https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-gender-gap-report-2021

  9. "Women and Men in Leadership Positions in the European Union" report by the European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/info/publications/women-and-men-leadership-positions-european-union_en

  10. "Women Entrepreneurs 2014: Bridging the Gender Gap in Venture Capital" report by Babson College: https://www.babson.edu/academics/centers-and-institutes/center-for-womens-entrepreneurial-leadership/research/women-entrepreneurs-2014-report/

  11. "Glass Ceiling: An Invisible Barrier to Career Advancement of Women" article by Marilyn Loden: https://www.jstor.org/stable/248623?seq=1


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