The Glass Ceiling: Women's Barriers to Leadership

by mediaethics15 on February 10, 2015 - 3:39pm

Women have come a long way since the feminist movement and active changes towards women’s rights have been implemented.  One can argue that women in Western societies are relatively equal and hold similar status to men. Although, once thoroughly examined, this does not seem to be the case with gender and the workplace. Women make a very small proportion of CEOs in corporations. Every year, Fortune Magazine lists the top 500 American companies that are chosen based on gross revenue. With this being said, out of the 500 companies, 5.2% of the CEOs are women (Martinez). Why are women so underrepresented as leaders? Women should be represented in all positions of work, not only entry-level or mid-level positions. These social barriers to high-level positions must be broken. Although, it may seem almost impossible for women to overcome this invisible and dominant barrier that forbids them from advancing up the corporate hierarchy. 

There are still gender norms that are vastly present in society. For example, women are still stereotypically seen as the primary caregiver to the family. These assumptions can consequently decrease their chances of promotion in the workplace. Women have a greater cultural expectation to be “present” in their child’s life where as men’s expectations for this are not as strong. It is more acceptable for a woman to quit her career after having children than for a man to end theirs.  Stereotypes attached to women include personality as well. They are seen to not fit the “ideal” corporate leader because women don’t hold managerial qualities such as assertiveness, they are not as aggressive as men, they aren’t as outgoing and men make better business decisions. Society’s skewed perceptions of gender qualities must be addressed.

This moral dilemma can be evaluated using deontological framework. Within deontology, it can be argued that it is morally right and a universal rule that women should be treated and represented equally in comparison to men. If this rule is not followed then society is not behaving ethically.  This is the case with the glass ceiling and women’s barriers to leadership. It is evident that there is sexual discrimination in the workplace and this is not morally right. Gender should not be the reason behind one’s chance of promotion because it is not right.

In order to solve this issue, we must take into consideration the left wing standpoint. More governmental social policies should be taken into consideration when women take on the role of the leader. These policies could include daycare services, paid leave or the right to be able to manage work at home when on parental leave or simply more flexibility with work hours. Women should not be looked at negatively when they decide to take a parental leave of absence. There should be a greater emphasis on the importance of family and the right to balance both the public and private spheres. It can be possible to have it all but women are discouraged from doing so. These actions can pave the way for equality in all positions of work including the executive seat.

Works Cited

Martinez, Brandon. “Fortune in the 5.2%: Women underrepresented as CEOs”. Under_Wire. 29 Oct. 2014. Web. 9 Feb. 2015.


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