Woman, the Architect of the Glass Ceiling


The subject of the glass ceiling is not a new discussion; it was first used in 1986 in the Wall Street Journal. This phrase refers to the invisible and impermeable obstacles that because of the existence of group discrimination by society—namely racial or gender discrimination— that exists despite possessing equal potentials and capabilities with others. These Obstacles are placed along the professional journey and individual development which prevent one from reaching placements based on their talents and merits in the work force. This phrase is typically used to express the circumstances of women in the professional world. However, by a more critical analysis, one notices how the “glass ceiling” metaphor misleads us from the true understanding of the issue. The “glass ceiling” directly points to the path a woman follows towards upper levels and when they are reaching the top and climax—BAM—suddenly and instantly she realizes that she can go no further. The challenges along the path of achieving success are not located in the peak or higher levels, rather, they can be found from the very first step and the very first moment she begins her professional career. Women, from within the complex events which brought huge changes during the industrial revolution, notwithstanding their impactful performance, were typically marginalized and they preferred to see themselves as objects rather than subjects. In a society where creating a culture for mass research has been planned, in the media and even depicted in drawings on the city walls, in all forms which can influence a person’s perceptions, the model for a perfect woman has still not transcended the roles of mother, housewife, and submissive wife. From the very first years of her life, the formative years of her personality and beliefs, she is impacted with indirect and implicit influences which ultimately prepare her subconscious for her presence to be seen as non-present. For this reason, it might be more appropriate to use the phrase of “sticky floor,” instead of “glass ceiling.”
Margie Warrell, a Forbes Columnist, says that most women underestimate themselves, doubt themselves, don’t defend themselves, don’t expand/develop their goals, and are often more inclined to stay in their “comfort zone.” Undoubtedly, there are numerous external obstacles in the professional environment, however, the biggest obstacle women face are themselves. Because of the incorrect implicit influences, they received as early as infancy, the efforts of the majority of women are to not offend others around them as well as to be non-confrontational. Consequently, because of their vulnerability, in order to protect themselves from possible threats and maintain social and mental/physical safety, often in the work place these women don’t make the best decisions and ultimately this belief is created that women are not stable and dependable. Fear, guilt, and attachment begin their roots in childhood and infancy and this ignorance causes women to accept circumstances of abjection instead of immersing herself in conditions that are new and unknown. In a situation where being different changes into discrimination, “woman” spends her days, even in the work force, in seclusion, isolation, and retreat. Stepping “out,” meaning, being socially active and having a presence in the professional arena brings her insecurity. Part of this security is threatened by men with the view of women as object to be dominated and whom do not have autonomous value. However, another part of this threatened security are other women. Opra Winfrey once said that genuinely successful individuals try to help others grow and develop; strong and successful woman smooths the path for growth and development of other women. In an interview with some successful and powerful women, published in the article titled: The World’s Leading Women Define Power, regarding the definition of power, all of them shared the view that success is not based on luck, rather it is calculated and carefully planned out. Real power is the ability and possibility to create positive change in the world rather than acquisition by appointment and controlling others or arrogance. Powerful women don’t seek confirmation of their “niceness” rather, with compassion work towards creating a better space for living. By recognizing the “Sticky Floor” they transcend the affirmation/confirmation syndrome and are no longer weary of being left alone or appearing pleasant to others. They believe in themselves and use their powers towards generating change in the world in the direction of creating better circumstances.
Michael Hunter in the year 2005 presented an academic article in the university of Sheffield with the thesis that when a man hears the sound of a female voice, this sound activates the part of the brain that processes music. The study showed that when a man heard another male voice, the information was processed in the part of the brain called the “mind’s eye”, which is a place where experiences are compared and placed in hierarchical order, a part of the brain where understanding and comprehension and categorization of information takes place. Thus, in order to convey a message, the part of the brain that analyzes and processes information must be activated in the listener.
By accessing scientific results of this kind, perhaps women might find more beneficial methods in conveying their ideas to others. Meaning, instead of using masculine traits or in order to gain immunity from charges of aggression—like the b-word—and humbly destroy themselves, they can mindfully employ techniques that are obviously different from how men operate in the work environment.
When you transcend the “Sticky Floor,” you realize that the “glass ceiling” was simply an illusion and after that anything becomes possible. Even if the popular belief still holds the “glass ceiling” as a truth, the metaphor of the glass also implies that it can be broken.