The glass ceiling is an unofficially acknowledged barrier to advancement in the workplace, usually affecting women and minorities. As a society, we need to drastically change the workplace paradigm so that men and women both have fair and equal opportunities for professional success,and organizations can benefit from the enhanced productivity and contributions of all their employees. According to Lisa Finn from Demand Media, “The results of discrimination against females in the workplace can include diminished company revenue, high employee turnover, low morale, and reduced productivity” (Global Post, “Female Discrimination in the Workplace”). Legally, employers have an obligation to treat and value all employees equally, regardless of sex or family status.
In our supposedly “post-patriarchal” society, women still have to fight for equality in the workplace, enduring continual professional slights such not receiving a promotion due to their gender. A recent example of this type of discrimination occurred at Microsoft earlier this year. Katie Moussouris complained about feeling discriminated against due to her gender because she was passed over for more than one job promotion when she was more qualified than her male counterparts (Sara Ashly O’Brien, CNN). This may be due in part that over 76 percent of the Microsoft workplace is male, perpetuating a strong glass ceiling effect for professionally ambitious women. Women should be more highly valued as company assets. It is contradictory for Microsoft to say they pay their employees fairly when the evidence shows they don’t value women employees, and persist in subscribing to patriarchal notions of familial obligation and outdated beliefs that their gender makes them unfit for positions they are perfectly qualified for. “According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, men in the tech industry last year earned about 24 percent more than their female colleagues (Daniel Wiessner, Reuters).”
Some of the outdated beliefs about women’s “suitability” for professional careers include women not needing equal pay because they are married. Women are inherently stereotyped as caregivers, and this can cause problems for those women who either don’t have dependents, or who are their family’s main breadwinner. The assumption is still made that women who are pregnant or are mothers don’t want long-term jobs, and this is simply wrong. Women and men who become parents should both be granted paid leave from their jobs so that they can bond with their children, and make the best possible decisions for their families. Women—like men—can be parents and have strong career aspirations. The Equal Pay Act of 1963, which was supposed to abolish wage discrimination on the basis of sex, was passed 52 years ago, and yet the wage gap persists. IWPR.org says, “In 2014, female full-time workers made on average only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 21 percent” (IWPR Pay Equity and Discrimination). In more than half a century, the wage gap has only decreased by 20% and women of color are still far behind their White counterparts. Women with families often find themselves subject to discrimination based on their employers’ assumptions of their workplace productivity, despite the fact that many endure the Second Shift, the unpaid labor at home following the work day. Working women should earn what they deserve based on their hard work, dedication, and willingness to improve their company.
While we have made certain strides in workplace equality due to new legislation and initiatives that level the playing field for men and women, there are still many concerns regarding the wage gap, possibilities of demotion, and being discriminated against or denied promotion due to gender. Workplace stereotypes and gender biases against women persist covertly, even if they are not as blatant as they once were. These problems can be addressed by revisiting and reinforcing workplace legislation and policies so they work in favor of both men and women. We should also encourage companies and their employees to eliminate the secrecy surrounding pay and promotion, and speak up on issues regarding salary discrimination and professional advancement.