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Shattering the glass ceiling – Why should we have more women in senior management.

Shattering the glass ceiling – Why should we have more women in senior management.

Shattering the glass ceiling – Why should we have more women in senior management.

One of the most significant goals of career success is growth up the management ladder. However, women seem to face more obstacles to attain top management positions. Although the proportion of women in the labour force and in management overall has increased across almost all countries, the proportion of women in top management position remains significantly smaller. Around the world, female managers are often found in entry or lower management and hold positions with less authority overall than the opposite gender

In general, women don’t often advance in managerial hierarchies as far as men with equivalent credentials. Is there a point beyond which a woman cannot advance? There are those who say that there is a glass ceiling for career women beyond which they can advance no more. Other people believe there is no such thing as a glass ceiling. Perhaps women and men differ in their work roles because they have different perceived values?

This article is an attempt to discuss the facts of the glass ceiling. The term glass ceiling refers to the barriers of advancement within the hierarchies of organizations. This term appeared in 1980’s in a number of studies and articles. These barriers are believed to be invisible and often unofficial. They can take different forms such as differential payment for same work, unequal treatment, lack of supportive family policies, exclusion from informal networks and unstable and slow promotions.

In the recent years, the percentage of women in higher management has stalled. In the latest Fortune 500 list, you’ll find a new record: As of June, 1 2018, 33 companies on the ranking of highest-grossing firms will be led by female CEOs for the first time ever. To be sure, that sum represents a disproportionately small share of the group as a whole; just 6.6%.

The number of managerial positions in the UAE and wider Gulf has improved and according to the report issued by Baker Institute in January 2018,

In recent years, the percentage of women in higher management has stalled

the female labour force participation stands at 47% in the UAE, 51% in Qatar, 44% in Kuwait, 29% in Oman and 20% in Saudi Arabia. Now the percentage according to Forbes Middle East, stands at 55% in the UAE, 56% in Qatar and 46% in Kuwait. In another report from PWC, 56% of women in MENA region felt they were treated equally to men when it came to gaining promotion. The tide is slowly turning in the Middle East as more women are being educated and many more are entering the professional working environment.

When compared to the rest of the world, only 9% of women are in senior roles in the GCC while the US boasts a 35% ratio, Africa stands at 29%, while Asia and Europe are slightly lower at 26% & 21% respectively. In every region, gender imbalance is directly related to the seniority of positions.

According to a survey by Hired.com in 2019 on gender inequality, 60% of the time men are offered higher salaries than a woman for the same role at the same company. However, women are taking an active step towards narrowing the gap. When women learn of a pay discrepancy, they take action at a higher rate than men: 32% of women started looking for a new job, whereas men did so only 24% of the time.

Some people believe that the glass ceiling effect can be easily controlled or proper solutions to reduce its impact could be formulated. Unfortunately, many of the reasons this effect exists are deeply embedded our society and culture, affecting both directly and indirectly a female’s ability to progress in her career. The main obstacles that are hindering women from reaching managerial positions are social constraints, organizational barriers and government interest.

Social constraints – Although women are often pursuing education at a higher rate than men, they are not able to enter the higher echelons of management. One of the most prominent obstacles is the expectation of household chores and childcare being a mother’s primary responsibility. Both men and women have been taught over the years that household tasks are for the females of the family. These demands equate to reduced options when it comes to time flexibility as well as a more conservative approach towards risk, which are essential for a successful performance in higher management positions.

Organizational barriers – Some of the main barriers that hinder women from achieving managerial positions are traditions and rules put in place back when women didn’t often make part of the work force. Coupled with a lack of female-friendly management, sub-optimal company policies regarding childcare and the inherent challenges of household responsibilities, women often struggle to dedicate network after work. The result is a much harder climb for women when aiming for top leadership positions.

Traditionally, policies have shown gender issues as a problem caused by women to themselves. Assuming, if a woman does not rise through the ranks it is because of their lack of skills or confidence which requires mentoring. The reality is, the problem lies in many different places and has myriads of causes. It lies with the on-going prejudices, bias and stereotypes formed about women. It lies in the lack of opportunities that stem from being born a male in most countries in the world.

Government interest – Governments across the globe have taken interest in policies related to the protection of women’s economic and professional growth. This includes varying periods of paid maternity leave which can range from a few weeks up to several years depending on the country. Worldwide, there is lack of a strong and consistent monitoring and law enforcement put in place to prevent abuse and aid professional development that could help mitigate some of the issues presented by the glass ceiling.

Small steps are being taken to create lasting cultural changes like raising awareness and transparency to change mentalities, eliminate gender stereotypes and prejudice in organisations and encourage cultural change with the right outlook that starts at the top. In 2019, awareness towards issues like gender pay gap, gender equality in the workplace, gender discrimination has helped in bringing out positive change and the trend towards addressing these issues has risen.

Skilled women in the workforce is a necessity for economic development and can only prosper when the glass ceiling is shattered.

At UKCBC, we believe in equal gender opportunity and equality. We share the vision of Dubai in building a skillful and diverse work environment. Our qualifications and teaching techniques encourage an equal opportunity learning culture and instil that culture within our students.



This blog is also listed on EdArabia, follow the link below: https://www.edarabia.com/shattering-glass-ceiling-why-should-more-women-senior-management/


Dr. Tajwar Hussaini is a highly skilled Assistant Professor, academic assessor and internal verifier at the UK College of Business and Computing (UKCBC) Dubai, with nine years of varied teaching experience.

She likes to encourage creativity and higher-order thinking during her lessons in order to increase student performance & foster personal growth. She believes in empowering all her students and create a motivating environment for students to progress in their academic journey.

You can reach her on tajwar@ukcbc.ac.ae