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Glass Ceiling: Why it Still Exists and How to Break Through It

November 1, 2022

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A young woman is working hard at her computer, working on breaking the glass ceiling.
The glass ceiling still exists. How can you break through it?

It’s no secret that women have historically been underserved, underpaid, and under-acknowledged in the workplace. Although this well-known fact continues to permeate the social sphere, inequity still exists. 

There have also been significant triumphs for women in the workplace throughout the last few decades. We’ve witnessed women take on leadership positions, the emergence of women-owned businesses, and women succeeding in the corporate ladder. Even with all of these progressions, the glass ceiling still threatens the world at large. So why does the glass ceiling exist, and how do we break it?

Definition of the Glass Ceiling and Why It’s There

The definition of the glass ceiling is an invisible yet palpable barrier that prevents women and marginalized groups from career advancement. This elusive social structure exists in a variety of institutions. It’s called the “glass” ceiling because it is just that - invisible. But does the glass ceiling exist simply because the professional world doesn’t value women? The answer is more complex than that.

Even though the glass ceiling is unspoken and invisible, its oppressive impact is experienced by those it affects the most. It makes itself known in mysterious ways and exists because of years of historical, social, and psychological oppression. When a society is built on the devaluing of specific groups of people, it bleeds into everything. This can take years, if not decades, to amend.

Societal and Structural Examples of the Glass Ceiling at Work

The glass ceiling is what keeps women from moving toward greater career success. This is even more true for women of color. For women of color, the pay gap is proven to be even wider than that of white women. Social inequities further perpetuate the existence of the glass ceiling. 

Not only this, but most workplace structures do not support women’s advancement. With workplace policies failing to support paid maternity leave, flexible hours, and remote work, many women are forced to leave their jobs. Women are expected to both excel at work and excel in household duties. The demand that’s placed on women to work overtime, without the structural support of their job, is brutal.

Psychological or Sociological Differences in Women and Men

There’s also the question of sociological differences between men and women, too. Women are less likely to take risks in their careers than men. In classroom settings, studies have shown that women raise their hands at a lower frequency than men. This is chalked up to merely psychological differences between the two genders. The answer is more nuanced. Rather, this is complex social conditioning at work. When women are conditioned to doubt themselves more, this will inevitably manifest in a professional setting as well.

The Glass Ceiling is There to be Broken

Luckily, there is hope for a more equitable world. For women in the workforce looking to break through the glass ceiling, here are some tips:

Speak Up

Don’t be afraid to use your voice. Women who speak up, state what they think, and ask for what they want are more likely to achieve career success. Use your voice at work, and use it often.

Trust Yourself

This also goes hand-in-hand with using your voice. When you trust what you have to say, and know how to act accordingly, you will be unshakable. Don’t feed into self-doubt. Instead, feed into self-trust.

Take Risks

Taking risks and making mistakes is a part of the process. Taking risks may be scary at first, but it will have an extreme payoff. When you take risks, you’re also taking the risk to succeed.

ASAP is Here to Help Professionals Break the Glass Ceiling

ASAP is proud to help women break the glass ceiling. We offer a plethora of comprehensive training resources and tools to help administrative professionals in their careers. If you’re ready to take your career to the next level, sign up today.


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