Women and their route to success: could the barriers be completely broken down?
Undoubtedly women have made extraordinary strides from the standpoint of their careers. It is now possible to see a woman running companies and occupying the most prestigious positions worldwide. However, the representation of women in business is still low in comparison with men. On one hand, many researches provide evidences of the existence of different types of discrimination against women, and on the other hand, some studies show a positive and promising panorama for women. Nowadays, women are seen as the core of the economy and it is possible that within a ...view middle of the document...
From the literature it can be infer that women face barriers not only in top executive roles but also in middle and lower positions.
Starting with the highest end of the scale, women continue struggling against the glass ceiling “the invisible barriers blocking women and minorities from top management positions” (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2009, p.41). As a result of the glass ceiling phenomenon, women were marginalized of taking on the highest positions of the organizations for decades. The so named C-suites such as chairman, president, chief executive officer and chief operating officer had been titles reserved for men. For instance, it was not until 1972 when the world knew the first woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company (Catalyst, 2011). By 2007 only 2% of the CEO’s were women. Currently, this percentage is 2.4% (CNN Money, 2011). Expanding a little bit the picture, and watching just below of the most sought position in the business world, the figures indicate that by 2005 women held 16.4% of corporate officer positions, the highest percentage from 1995. Currently, this percentage is of 14.1%, up just 0.6 percentage points from 2009. On the other hand, women held 6.4% of top earner positions, up 1.2% percentage points from 2002. Going further down the hierarchy scale the results are more encouraging, women occupy 51.5% of all management, professional and, related positions in the United States (Catalyst, 2011). But the glass ceiling is not the only barrier that women have to confront.
Researches have found different type of barriers that could be considered as branches or extensions of the glass ceiling. For example, Eagly and Carli (2007) introduced a new metaphor, the “labyrinth,” which describes the difficult road filled of obstacles, twist, and turns that women who aspire to leadership positions have to pass through. In turn, Ryan and Haslam (2005) proposed the concept of the “glass cliff” to argue that once women break through the glass ceiling and take on position of leadership they are more likely to occupy position that are precarious and thus have a higher risk of failure.
The glass ceiling and the glass Cliff are telling examples of barriers that prevent the equality between women and men in business. However, as Bible and Hill (2007) state, the discrimination against women takes many forms. In the international arena, for example, women represent a dismal 13% of all managers who are sent abroad (Bible & Hill, 2007). In the marketing campaigns, companies fail to realize that women control the lion’s share of consumer spending, 72% in average, Therefore, their campaigns continue promoting old female stereotypes (Silverstein & Sayre, 2209). In addition, the predominance of “old boys clubs” that hinder the opportunities women have to build effective networks. A 71% of global organizations do not have a clearly defined strategy or philosophy to develop women for leadership roles (O’Neill and Boyle, 2011). Other types of...