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I am sure we will all agree to the rise of emotions when the topic of women’s rights is raised. Tears well down, hearts come full with emotions, even the quietest of the lot makes sure to share an opinion and the melodrama begins. But this research paper is an interesting insight into a fact that women choose not to break the glass ceiling effect in most of the cases despite discrimination since most of these women choose to build their nest instead. It is of common knowledge that all companies have incorporated maternity leaves in their human resource policies but often women take a break from their career too look after their brood. It is true that there are exceptions but mostly women prioritize their family. In economics, the phenomena glass ceiling pertains to events where the advancement of a qualified/deserving person within the hierarchy of an organization is stopped at a lower level because of some underlining discrimination, mostly sexism or racism, but since the term was coined, "glass ceiling" has also come to describe the limited advancement of the mentally and physically challenged, aged, black and sexual minorities. It is an informal, transparent barrier that prevents women and minorities from advancing in businesses (Sheffrian). There are no advertisements that specifically say “no minorities hired at this establishment”, nor are there any formal orders that say “minorities are not qualified” – but they do prevail under the surface.
A Global Perspective
While many women insist that the glass ceiling is a real barrier to accessing male-dominated positions in business, many challengers say that it exists mostly because women choose to focus more of their time on family and, in the end, cannot dedicate as much time to their career. People with such an opinion cite a 2005 report that 43% of highly qualified, educated women with children left their jobs voluntarily at some stage of their careers. Although 93% wanted to return to their careers, only 74% did so and only 40% went back to a full time position (Mitra). Of those women who wanted to return to work, only five percent desired to return to the position they had left. Older generations of women had little employment opportunities and more focus on intense training for being a good housewife and a mother was considered most important. At that time there was no choice for them to decide to break the glass ceiling or concentrate on family, family was the only option. (Maia)
The newer generations of women have changed and more and more women are choosing to work but no necessarily wanting to break the glass ceiling. Their life too circles around taking care of their husband and kids, namely building and managing their nest. (Maia)
We know that there is a lot of discrimination and that many people think that women are more apt to stay home and take care of their children and family. Women are about one third of all MBA graduates in law and medicine. Things are changing over the years but the change as we know is really slow. We cannot say that this decision of concentrating on building the nest instead of breaking the glass ceiling is only due to discrimination. More women compared to men might be taking this decision by themselves, because it is the decision they are expected to make (Jamieson). A very important aspect of this research study which has been pointed out is sabbaticals that have become an important terminology for working mothers who wish to build the nest. These mothers take a long and often a permanent break from their careers in order to tend to their children. But some who return after a long time compromise on compensation and positions acquired since a woman who has been home and away from work for years is definitely not the same competent woman anymore. This shall be the focus of our research that women choose to build the nest and that is why the glass ceiling effect has prevailed for this long. But discrimination is a result of the general attitude of women since they focus more on their homes than work and our questionnaire has helped to prove this information.
Scope of the research
This research has been conducted with primary and secondary data. The questionnaire used in the paper has been taken from an internet source and it has been altered according to the requirements in order to fit with the scope of our research. The sample taken was random and according to convenience sampling. The sample size is 100. We randomly surveyed women we know and also those we do not know. The respondents were very helpful.
Data Collection and Analysis
Our questionnaire is based on four factors. The first factor is discrimination which is described through Table 1. In Table 1 (See Appendix) we see that one of the major factors affecting the mother’s choice and glass ceiling is discrimination we see that the sample size is 100 (N) for all. The first type of discrimination question is few women employed in top jobs and it was seen that most women felt that there few women are employed in top level jobs.
The second question of discrimination is that women are generally accepted in low or clerical jobs. The third question of discrimination is that women make better secretaries most of the women working say that this is a false belief and they disagree. The third question of discrimination is women turned down for managerial positions are equally or more educated women, and women on an average believe this is so and agree that equally and more qualified women are treated unequally compared to men. A very recent example of this kind of discrimination is Hilary Clinton who was running for President but the lobby did not want a woman to be Commander in Chief although she is equally capable. The fourth question of discrimination is that women do not receive same salaries for same jobs when compared to men. Most of the women respondents agree to this fact. The fifth question of discrimination is that women are not easily promoted from lower to middle management. Here we see that the women mostly agree to this fact but mostly the lower designated women, whereas the women already at middle and top management positions may seem to disagree. The sixth question of discrimination is that the percentage of men promoted to middle management is higher than women, on average women employees agreed to this fact. The seventh question of discrimination is that even with higher education women do not get top level jobs. Surprisingly, on an average the respondents agreed to this fact. The last question of discrimination in the questionnaire is that women are being stereo typed in various ways which limits their growth. On average women agreed to this fact. When talking about acceptability of women only in low profile jobs like front desk ones the opinion of respondents between age group 26-30 varied from strong to neutral. “Equal opportunities for both qualified men and women” seemed to be negated by this chunk of the sample. They believe that they being women (qualified too) do not receive same privileges and chances as enjoyed by their male counterparts. Whereas, age group 31-35 agreed with women being stereotyped, but they were neutral when talking about unequal salaries where as rest of the findings were more or less on similar grounds. The most interesting and different finding in age bracket 41-45 was the neutral and disagreeing opinion about women more in demand for jobs like secretaries. Their opinion on unequal salaries and obstacles in promotion was more towards the neutral side and the reason being, more years of service which has resulted in higher pay drawing as well as acceptability of existing norms and trends of the organization. Above 50 agreed that women are accepted only on front desk jobs and discrimination exists. These respondents were mostly sabbaticals as discussed earlier in the paper.
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The second factor is personal beliefs and attitudes of women and in Table 2 (See Appendix) it shows that women respondents on an average strongly agree to the fact that women want to achieve higher positions in their jobs and they strongly agree to the fact that women should get job recognition and become a role model for their children and balance their work and family life to be successful. When talking about hitting and breaking the glass ceiling one has to make sacrifices on the personal front (Riper). Gender biasness is one of the reasons which prevent women to break the glass ceiling. Men just don’t want women to get ahead of them. Globally, too we see that men are more focused to get high post jobs than women. (Dominguez). Even ambitious women don’t measure their success by high job titles and salaries; they are more focused on developing good relationships with their colleagues and giving back to the community and giving fair time to their family (Dominguez). They want to be satisfied with their work and pay but also want to be satisfied with other things they value in life. Sometimes women just take different career paths and want to take out time for their children or are even planning for career change which stops them from breaking the glass ceiling. Women bosses whom we would think would sympathize with women and their diverted responsibilities are tended to be stricter when compared to male bosses.
The third factor is management practices and polices and this has been illustrated in Table 3 (See appendix) In Table 3 that talks about the policies of management we see that the respondents on an average agreed that women get stuck at the supervisory positions and respondents were neutral and more so disagreed to the fact that women are denied executive positions due to less leadership and management skills learnt at entry level positions since its mostly due to discrimination according to respondents.
The fourth and the most important factor is culture. Table 4 (See Appendix) talks about culture and its impact since women on an average strongly agreed that the expectations of society affect their decisions. They were more towards disagreement on the point that they are not supported by immediate family, were agreeing but more neutral on average about the fact that they are not supported by in-laws and more towards disagreement when talking about them not getting support from their husbands. The women on average were neutral or mostly agreed to the fact that they valued relationships and community work more than titles and salaries. On an average a few agreed to the fact that the problematic behaviors of their colleagues are a stoppage for them to proceed further in their career. The rest disagreed or were neutral to the fact that problematic behaviors of their colleagues are a stoppage for them to proceed further in their career. Culture also has a major role in directing women to choose to build the nest rather than break the glass ceiling. Many cultures emphasize since many generations on women to be a role model at home by taking care of their house and family, nothing more. Culture also tends to build the mindset of people, women think they need to concentrate on their children and bring them up properly, while achieving heights in career seems like just an option, the previous obligatory. Men too are overshadowed by culture and see women’s place at home and not at work. They want to have the power and be the bread earners for their family to prove their exalted position and power and their family dependency (Bergman).
Working mothers tend to feel more comfortable in starting an entrepreneurial venture as they feel that in starting their own business they have more control over their internal and external environment and can be flexible enough to give full time to their family. These are the main reasons why working mothers tend to concentrate on building their family and spending more time on them rather than thinking about their careers and breaking the glass ceiling effect.
In 1995 the US commission said that the barrier of the glass ceiling effect resulting in innumerable qualified women to gauge the opportunity of holding executive jobs or higher level jobs and mostly in the private sector. The commission came up with striking statistics that proved 45.7% of jobs in American went to more than half of Master’s degree holders and such were being awarded as well. But out of these degree holders 95% holding senior manager jobs were men and the female counterparts were earning only about 68% of what their equally capable make counterparts were earning while holding the same degree (Woodward).
An interesting issue brought up was industrialization and its effect that created the glass ceiling effect. Industrialization has brought a change in society according to which women have to juggle two responsibilities that is to meet their expectations at home and also at work. This has affected the physical and psychological health of these women and has also affected family life especially children in a negative way. Due to these pressures women are much more prone to psychopathology. Thus, women have been subjugated to unfair assumptions and discriminations that have contributed to the formation of the Glass ceiling effect (Schumacher).
Limitations of Research
This research has been conducted using primary as well as secondary data and it proves that women due to various reasons choose to build their nest rather than break the glass ceiling effect. But however as there is a usual belief of expecting women to exhibit a certain role like spending less time at work and more time with children and family etc this belief is even evident in the research we conducted. There is another important finding which shows that there exists discrimination against females working in the organization as they don’t get promotions that easily like males who are working with them in the organization. Moreover females are usually preferred for front desk jobs or are assigned with regular tasks (checking of luggage, at the check in, check out, assistants etc) whereas males are given more specific and jobs which have proper designations thus there are chances for them to progress more compared to females. Interestingly women belonging to the lower positions like secretaries did not agree to the fact that discrimination against promotions for women exists because according to the stereotype that women make better secretaries they have been provided with their slice of the cake which makes them satisfied. Women have proved to be good in such positions over the years of experience thus stereotypes strengthen whereas all women are not alike some are career driven and ambitious whereas others are simply family driven. The younger lot of the females seemed to be more enthusiastic, ambitious and career driven or working to achieve self actualization. Company policies, cultural expectations and lack of support from family/husband is a major hindrance for women to work and break the glass ceiling thus to avoid any conflicts at home they accept low position jobs that require less work and time. Women were mostly neutral to the problem creating behavior of men at work. According to the analysis it shows that unmarried women feel the most that their male counterparts are given more promotions and salaries whereas the females are equally capable. Married women are almost same as for unmarried women except for a deviation on the denial of executive positions due to less skills and other of promoting privileges. This discrepancy must have risen due to inclusion of few middle level managers for the married women but nevertheless the findings are not way far different.
Table 1: Discrimination
discrimination-few women employed in top jobs
discrimination-accepted in low jobs
discrimination-make better secretaries
discrimination-women turned down for managerial positions are equally or more educated
discrimination-women do not receive same salaries
discrimination-not easily promoted from lower to middle management
Discrimination-% of men are promoted more than women
Discrimination-even with higher education women do not get top level jobs
Discrimination-women are being stereo typed
Table 2: Personal Beliefs and Attitudes
want to break the glass ceiling- achieve higher positions
want to break glass ceiling-job recognition and role model for children
balance work and family life
Table 3: Management Practices and Polices
why don’t they break the glass ceiling?-women get stuck at supervisory positions
denied executive positions due to less skills
Table 4: Culture
culture-expectations affect women roles
nest-women want to give more time to family than work
not supported by immediate family
not supported by in-laws<