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Is there still a glass ceiling in the workplace for women?

09:36 UK time, Monday, 21 February 2011

Almost three-quarters of women believe a glass ceiling still exists in business holding back their chances of being promoted to senior management a survey suggests. Do you agree?

Just under half of the women asked in the research for the Institute of Leadership and Management supported the idea of having quotas for female executives, compared to nearly a quarter of the men asked.

Penny de Valk, the Institute's chief executive, said that although quotas may be seen as the quickest solution they do not necessarily drive a commitment to the more fundamental changes required.

Are quotas a good idea? What would be the best way to increase the number of women on company boards? Should gender come into employment decisions? What are your experiences in the workplace?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

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Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    The fact that women THINK there is a glass ceiling doesn't mean there is one.

  • Comment number 2.

    1 said it all, this HYS is now closed.

  • Comment number 3.

    Small companies are very wary of hiring women into important positions because they could fall pregnant and potentially cost the firm significant amounts of revenue. Only large well-funded firms can play the politically correct game.

  • Comment number 4.

    OK another pick up topic...... from CNN now! BBC be more independent and original.

  • Comment number 5.

    how about quotas for disabled black ethnic and all other groups
    surely any business wants the best at the top not someone from a preference list,supplied by who?

  • Comment number 6.

    It's not exactly glass, but there IS still a ceiling. Perspex maybe, or something stretchy like cling film. Either way it takes considerably more hard work & effort for a woman to get to the top. The main reason? There are still some companies out there who dislike hiring women for top positions because of "the baby thing". I personally have no desire to achieve a top business position but I resent the fact that if i did, I would be prevented from doing so by the fact that I MIGHT have children (especially as I have no desire for those either)
    For all those who think I'm wrong, have a look at the comments still to come, we've had this thread before & an awful lot of men still seem to think it's ok to discount a woman from a top job on the basis that it would be too much hassle to replace her & too expensive if she got pregnant.
    It's a shame that such sexism still exists in some sectors but it isn't as prevalent as it was & the "cling film" ceiling can be stretched & eventually broken.

  • Comment number 7.

    We've had a female Head of State since 1952 and we elected our first female Head of Government in 1979, if the glass ceiling exists it does so only inside the heads of those who believe it does. The UK is one of the most open societies on the planet and women have just as much chance of getting to the top as men.

    The main reason women tend not to be equally represented in the "top jobs" is down to the fact that most women take several years out of their careers due to pregnancy.

  • Comment number 8.

    I dont think its a good idea to have quotas for women because you may be overlooking the very best male candidates.I worked in a profession where women dominated all the top jobs and I have to say that many were not worthy of their positions.Many of them had more time off for one reason or another whilst the men rarely had any time off but were not valued as highly.If a company is shrewd enough it can get the best candidate regardless of gender.To keep on changing the goalposts to allow enforced equality is pointless and could backfire in years to come.

  • Comment number 9.

    I hope so! I'm a woman and I can't stand working for women bosses...some are really awful - 9 out of 10 are.

    I'm 55, worked all my life, but the best jobs have been where I have had a male boss - sorry I know this is going to offend a lot of women but if you speak to other women in the office they often agree.

  • Comment number 10.

    There may still be sexism in the boys' boardroom, but another factor is the long hours culture that exists in the senior levels of most big companies. Women tend to have more priorities like family, or just having a life, outside of work so won't win the long hours race.

  • Comment number 11.

    Chaps – If you are a man living in the UK you are NOT allowed to comment on this, it could put your job, family life and your whole career in jeopardy. OK
    So before you open your mouths remember what happened to Andy Grey and Richard Keys a couple of weeks ago for daring to criticize a woman, you have been warned.

  • Comment number 12.

    When you hire a member of staff you have to account for sick days. When hiring a female member of staff you have to account for pregnancy time. Assuming the standard british family is 1-2 children you must account for whatever time will be taken off.
    Assuming an eastern family the range can be more.

    This doesnt necessarily mean a glass ceiling but it could make women less appealing to hire than a man. Especially in highly paid positions.

  • Comment number 13.

    Perhaps women don't want to rise above the glass ceiling because then the underlings can see her underthings

  • Comment number 14.

    This is a very selective and sexist HYS.
    In business, glass ceilings do not just apply to women.
    In my company the glass ceiling applies to non-Americans.

    When is the equality industry going to do something about what is in the first sentence of the Human Rights Act. "Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law" Life expectancy for males is 78, for women it is 82.
    We have a "Minister for Women and Equalities". Where is the Minister for Men?

  • Comment number 15.

    This old cherry again. If a man doesn't get promotion at work he has to reluctantly accept that he wasn't the right man for the job or simply not good enough, the same thing happens to a women and they use it as an opportunity to start whining about sexism etc.....
    Most of the problems (if any exist) stem from the fact that some women claim they want to pursue a career and then after a few years of doing so get themselves pregnant and leave, normally at great inconvenience to the unfortunate firm that employed them. They then have the nerve to demand that their job is held open for them whilst they're off playing happy families, no, I'm afraid that these issues are in fact created by women themselves and won't improve until they wake up and smell the coffee and realise you can't have your cake and eat it.

  • Comment number 16.

    My experience of female managers has been the same as my experience of women in general, i.e. unreasonable, impractical, unimaginative, foot stamping while stating that the woman who gave her this job said she could do this. On the plus side, I would have to say that some women manage a home and family quite well. I also have to say that I have met more than my fair share of alleged male managers who show similar traits.

  • Comment number 17.

    "I didn't get the job because [insert reason here]."

    The only relevant insertion is "because I didn't". And if you really believe there is something else going on then get another job, and another, and another, until you find happiness and contentment.

    But do not follow the BBC politically correct belief that it was "because you are a woman". It is an ugly scam designed to ensure you never get the job "because [insert reason here]".

  • Comment number 18.

    I don't think sexism has been completly eradicated from the workplace but I don't think it is the main thing keeping women from the top jobs.

    My wife read an interesting book recently that made a number of interesting points such as
    - Talented women are more likely than men to be attracted to more 'caring' but less financially rewarding careers in things such as medicine, teaching and social work.
    - Women sell themselves less aggressively then men in the workplace so are less likely to get the best jobs.
    - Women are less likely than men to make the necessary sacrifices in their family lives to get to the top jobs.

    So yes there is a glass ceiling but it is largely self imposed.

  • Comment number 19.

    Not this nonsense again! Maybe, just possibly, not as many women as men have the qualities required to make it to the top. By the same token, not as many men as women have, shall we suggest, other qualities that women do have.

    When are we going to see an end to women endlessly moaning that life is not "fair" when they fail to make the grade? For most men, too, life is equally not fair, in case you had not noticed.

    What any organisation needs at the top is the best person for the job. Not a woman, not a black, not a member of a specified religion, but the person best qualified to do the job.

    Of course, in the real world, it looks as though they don't always get the best person, judging from the way most things are run, but that is a quite different story and maybe a more interesting HYS than yet another whine about how poor little downtrodden women are kept out of all the plum jobs, denied their rights, treated as second-class citizens, etc., etc ad nauseam, yawn yawn.

  • Comment number 20.

    "Almost three-quarters of women believe a glass ceiling still exists in business holding back their chances of being promoted to senior management a survey suggests. Do you agree?" - HYS:

    The usual often-repeated, Public Media, PC-led subject.

    SOME women and their PC Media 'allies' will never be satisfied until there are NO Men holding positions that Women would LIKE - whether they are more able or NOT.

    About time our Public Media turned away from their extreme PC self-serving and infantile 'guidance' of the Public, and returned to the common-sense that they turned their back on when Nu-Labour came to power.

  • Comment number 21.

    Quotas for:
    Women executives
    Women and coloured MPs
    Catholics in the PSNI

    You don't end discrimination by discriminating against one group of people in an attempt to stop discrimination against another group of people. All you do is reinforce discrimination.

  • Comment number 22.

    Anyone think it's a bit odd that the relatively low numbers of men choosing careers in things like nursing, social work and primary school teaching ISN'T used as an example of terrible sexism that must be fixed with quotas?

  • Comment number 23.

    Women in top jobs{ directors} or sole owners in any business are few are far between in the U.K. unless its a family company!!! but the wife of the boss are allmost useless, and cause probelms with other members of staff in any company thats { my view }. I have come across a few woman in middle management, many who are normaliy very good at they jobs, unless they are there for other reasons. The glass celling is a name of a book, in real life today, its loads of talent and extra hardwork that counts in some firms, To reach the top { maybe} but it depends on the company?

  • Comment number 24.

    Well,well well, don't we already have a woman (H.M. The Queen) on the throne and she has been there for over 50 years! We had a woman Prime Minister (Margaret Thatcher) for three periods of Tory government and what a disaster she was! We had a woman in charge of M15/M16. There are plenty of women in senior posts at the BBC earning more than the Prime Minister!

    Now what is the gripe Ladies?

  • Comment number 25.

    Most women I know choose to stay below the glass ceiling because they don't want people looking up their skirts.

  • Comment number 26.

    Funny this.

    As a white, English, hetero, middle aged, non-disabled man, I consider the ceiling above me to be far more opaque than that above some of my colleagues.

    I cite an advert recently: "... should work to ensure that we positively represent our customers. We therefore actively encourage and welcome applications from women, ethnic minorities, people with a disability and members of the LGB & T community."

    I don't want my son's headteachers to be 'representative of the community', I want them to be a good school custodian who cares about the children. I really don't care what gender/sex/whatever as long as he/she/it is the best.

    With regard to some employers not taking on women of childbearing age. Can you blame them? Previous governments have emasculated employers with equal opportunities legislation, to the point that many small employers cannot afford to have one of their staff go off on maternity on full pay with a job guarantee when they come back.

    If I had a small company and employed ten people, I'd not take on a women in her twenties or thirties either. How many small businesses can swallow the loss of paying for someone to NOT work for up to 9 months?

    This glass ceiling is not exactly mythical, but it is far thinner than many women would have everyone believe. For every ten women who moan about glass ceilings, I'd bet that seven or eight of them lost out to more able candidates.

  • Comment number 27.

    I expressed some concern to my boss that our business plan will be likely to have an £11million hole in it by the third quarter of 2011. She agreed with me, suggesting that she would take the opportunity to get pregnant and avoid the crisis with a stretch of maternity leave.
    Only joking.

    As a bloke I have to agree with:
    9. At 10:26am on 21 Feb 2011, CladinBlack wrote:
    "I hope so! I'm a woman and I can't stand working for women bosses...some are really awful - 9 out of 10 are."

    It's just a shame that 9 out of 10 male bosses are just as bad/worse.

  • Comment number 28.

    I think I am the best candidate for every job I apply for (obviously). Since I don't get them there must be a glass ceiling preventing or something preventing me getting them.

  • Comment number 29.

    Next month the Church of England Synod will be deciding whether or not to allow women to become bishops. Since Anglican promulgations are often delayed reflections of secular society, if women are allowed to become bishops it is a sure sign that there is no "glass ceiling". If, on the other hand, the decision is "No", we must accept the reality of a "glass ceiling", but instead of trying to remove it, maybe we should "rewind" to the start of the feminist-chauvinist debate and consider why we have arrived at this point of contention. If we then consider traditional British values, we may find that the cause has been men who have not pulled their weight in the family, as a husband, father and breadwinner, and as a leader and lover. It is not surprising that women have stepped forward to take the helm. It's time for men to act like men.

  • Comment number 30.

    Many occupations are dominated by highly paid women and in some occupations women are preferred.

    Similarly in certain occupations and sectors ethnic minorities are preferred and get the best paid jobs.

    Try being a white male getting a job in public sector HR! Impossible. Or for that matter a white straight male getting a presenting job with the BBC!

    Discrimination works in all ways, what Ps people off is that minorities seem to drive up their worth through militant and aggressive use of our often misguided equality and employment laws.

  • Comment number 31.

    The glass ceiling is there, but it is not just women that are impeded.

    What gets missed in the gender debate, is how many top jobs are available to candidates from a broad range of backgrounds.

    The "professions" are full of senior management from the "right" background. How many men and women have been blocked by a glass ceiling because they didn't go to the right school, university, or know the right people...?

    More to this than gender.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    A talent ceiling certainly. When I worked for a well known multi national telecommunications company we had lots of up and coming female 'talent' getting the top jobs. Every single one of them had a huge chip on their shoulder and they decimated the company.

  • Comment number 34.

    I think that any employer that treats men and women any differently at all is going to end up in a tribunal very quickly. For that reason there is no glass ceiling imposed by employers. However, women do things like take career breaks to have kids and the effect of that time out may manifest itself as women not being able to climb as high as the otherwise might have.

  • Comment number 35.

    25. At 10:44am on 21 Feb 2011, Billy wrote:
    Most women I know choose to stay below the glass ceiling because they don't want people looking up their skirts.

    -----------------------------------
    LOL, they have just put new glass staircases & floors in the new part of the college I work in. Time to buy some interesting bloomers methinks ;)

  • Comment number 36.

    As a mail having 30 plus years in the nhs, I was amazed how the female professsional always had to prove themselves as more capable than majority of my male colleagues, the extent people went to, to prove their ability to function in the role became more astounding.

    Sadly I still firmly have the belief that if a person got promotion, it was rarely upon there professional skills, or what they knew, but more towards who they knew, hence more garolous and sociable they were, the more able they got promotion.

    On the positive note the many political changes of the managemnt structure, also paved way for faster changes resulting with lesser confidence in managemnt.

  • Comment number 37.

    It must be nice to have something to blame one's stalled career progress on. Saves having to face that someone else was considered more suitable for the position you wanted.

    There may be problems in some firms but I suspect other companies are so keen not to be seen as discriminatory, that they discriminate the other way.

    I don't believe there is a problem throughout industry as a whole. We've not been shown proof of it anyway, just accusations.

  • Comment number 38.

    OK, look at it this way, five years ago I was sacked from my job for taking too much time off work (check out Bradford Score, for those who've never heard of it), because my asthma became worst.
    Women deliberately allow themselves to become unfit for work, usually without informing the workplace of their intention to do so. Furthermore, many have monthly issues, that mean they take time off regularly.
    How is a firm supposed to function if one of their chief execs suffers like this? How is a small firm, with few employees, to take up the slack?
    I'm not saying this is a bad thing, it's just a fact of life. Deal with it!

  • Comment number 39.

    Sexism, ageism, racism and every other 'ism' you can think of are all alive and well in the British workplace. Shame on our government for doing nothing constructive to stop it, shame on our populous for allowing such nonsense to continue, shame on parents for still raising their children to think bigotry of any sort is acceptable and shame on all the men posting comments on this thread that 'glass ceilings' are a figment of the female imagination!

  • Comment number 40.

    If there was a glass ceiling I'd quite happily let the women be up top!

  • Comment number 41.

    Sexism is a man-made phenomenon subscribed to by many women, Kant! Another dumb topic, another dumb day!

  • Comment number 42.

    Is there still a glass ceiling in the workplace for women?
    I don't think so.

    Are quotas a good idea?
    No, because companies should be recruiting the best person for the job and not finding the nearest one-eyed black lesbian to fulfil their quota.

    What would be the best way to increase the number of women on company boards?
    Duh - Recruit more women into those positions. Not that I advocate this selection strategy (see previous and next answers).

    Should gender come into employment decisions?
    No.

    What are your experiences in the workplace?
    People arrive, do some work (sometimes), and go home again.

  • Comment number 43.

    Here we go again, the Battle of the sexes. How much unnecessary time and money has been wasted over the years with this emotive subject.
    We have seen Governmental quotors set for the number males to females at all levels within industry and commerce which have caused havoc TO WHAT IS LEFT OF IT.
    These laws only add to costs and overall make any industry less effective to any competiton. Employers must be pulling their hair out with this added interferance.

  • Comment number 44.

    I once walked out of a job interview when it became clear that I was only there because they wanted a woman on the shortlist.

  • Comment number 45.

    I believe in a meritocracy. People should be able to progress based on merit, and certainly not based on positive discrimination or quotas.

    If I have to have a major operation I want the best person performing it.

  • Comment number 46.

    No, there is no ceiling that reacts particularly to whether a person is male or female. It is far more complex than that and you could equally say there was such a ceiling associated with class, background, education, disability, sexuality, yes and race, religion and culture.

    There is a filtering process that goes on in the process of rising up through the ranks of business and it is sadly not one entirely based on talent. Being a women is only a small part of the system of prejudice within that filter. The filter exists to ensure a certain safe homogeneity in the corridors of power but it cares less whether you are a women than whether you are one of them.

  • Comment number 47.

    I find women over 40 to be excellent recruitment choices.
    They are generally settled, with kids so unlikely to move job so any training and experience rarely walks out of the door - Most of they time they bring experience with them so costs are lower.
    They know their chances of other jobs are slimmer so are less likely to move jobs - They quite often stay until retirement - I get 25 years loyal service whereas recruiting a 20 year old I only get a few years.
    They have the experience and social skills to bond with other workers - especially all the other women with children.
    They never turn up with hangovers or take hangover sickies - Most drop their kids off then come to work. I very rarely loose time due to kids being sick but when I do we work around it and everyone is understanding.
    I have no qualms about promoting anyone on merit since I own my company I want the best worker in the best role - I can't afford bad hiring choices.
    Quite frankly, anyone who isn't hiring over 40's women is an idiot.

  • Comment number 48.

    11. At 10:28am on 21 Feb 2011, Alan Baker wrote:
    Chaps – If you are a man living in the UK you are NOT allowed to comment on this, it could put your job, family life and your whole career in jeopardy. OK
    So before you open your mouths remember what happened to Andy Grey and Richard Keys a couple of weeks ago for daring to criticize a woman, you have been warned.

    =================================

    Theres a big difference between criticism and plain obnoxious biased ignorant sexism, of which these 2 muppets were guilty of. Sorry, to cast all muppets the same is surely muppetism.

  • Comment number 49.

    Prior to retirement, I was a member of a profession in which there is negligible discrimination against women in leadership roles.
    The arguments surrounding the inconvenience, to a small or medium-size professional group, of pregnancy and maternity leave are well-known, but what is seldom discussed is the effect of school holidays and episodes of childhood illness superimposed upon mandatory maternity leave.
    My female colleagues would invariably expect to have first pick in the holiday rota, and it would be relatively common for ad hoc leave to be taken, should a child fall ill.
    In her first five years in my department, one such colleague had three periods of maternity leave and any number of short-term absences due to children's ailments, which she was not prepared to leave to the nanny.
    All these absences had to be covered by her colleagues, at considerable inconvenience and no extra remuneration. The same colleague now demands to have annual leave during all the periods of school holiday, which of course means Easter, Christmas and the prime summer weeks.
    She has her cake, and gorges greedily upon it.

  • Comment number 50.

    Oh, for goodness sake, not this old chestnut again!

    Keeping on dragging up this old complaint is hardly likely to further the cause; all it does is put people’s backs up. Just get over yourselves and accept that if you don’t get the job it’s because you aren’t good enough.

    As a woman I really object to being lumped together with foolish women who think quotas are a good thing. Quotas are just another form of discrimination and there is no such thing as good discrimination.

    Just do a good job and stop using 'the glass ceiling' as a cover for your own inadequacies.

  • Comment number 51.

    Is there still a glass ceiling in the workplace for women?
    Lame BBC, you are slipping further and further behind Al Jazeera.

  • Comment number 52.

    Isn't it time to accept that women and men are not identical? Males and females have fundamental differences and aptitudes - there are some things that men do better than women, whilst other things that women do better than men. This will inevitably result in some areas of life being dominated by either males or females. There are certainly professional areas that are completely dominated by women because female traits make them better at those jobs, or they are more attractive to women. Maybe - and this will probably be regarded as heretical by ardent feminists - men just make better top executives and political leaders than women do, at least on average?

  • Comment number 53.

    13. At 10:29am on 21 Feb 2011, pandatank wrote:

    Perhaps women don't want to rise above the glass ceiling because then the underlings can see her underthings


    =====================================================

    This and 3 other comments should start the fire! Watch out!

  • Comment number 54.

    In one of my past jobs I was PA to three women bosses - one south african, one american, the other a Londoner.

    Such sweet ladies, all of them. Got on with them really well, especially liked it when they fought over me in wanting my services ;)

    Ah, happy days.

    Personally, I love women workers.

  • Comment number 55.

    As any episode of 'The Apprentice' (US or UK version) will profoundly demonstrate, the main 'qualities' needed to get to the top are ruthlessness, aggression, rudeness, and a thorough willingness to stab anyone in the back who gets in your way. These are not naturally qualities found in most women, and I suspect, not in huge numbers of men either. The qualities we value in society are not the same in the workplace, not when you're striving for the top.

    So, yes, there is a glass ceiling, but it's not just there for women, it's there for everyone who doesn't have what it takes to be a complete ****.











  • Comment number 56.

    Although I agree that we should always ignore surveys that tell us what people ‘believe’ – this is irrelevant – in this case the belief is borne out by reality. There is an imbalance in the number of women in top jobs, and frankly until we’ve sorted out some pretty deeply ingrained misconceptions it’s going to have to be quotas and affirmative action.

    Essentially there’s a vicious cycle which goes roughly like this:
    1) Due to basic-level, old-style sexism of the sort that persisted historically, most leaders are male
    2) Specific personality traits are considered important for leadership (e.g. aggression, competitiveness)
    3) These ‘leadership traits’ get associated with the existing, male leaders and are thus erroneously considered intrinsically ‘masculine’
    4) Under pressure to be ‘feminine’, women are encouraged and educated to suppress ‘masculine’ traits – making them less attractive for leadership jobs.
    5) Even if they don’t do this, recruiters faced with a female applicant will start with the base assumption that they are less likely to have the qualities required – or even that there is something else ‘wrong’ or ‘unnatural’ about women with leadership traits
    6) Therefore the deck is psychologically stacked against women, and even in an ostensibly non-sexist environment most leaders remain male, perpetuating the cycle.

    The fact is that there is little scientific evidence that the physical sex of a human being has a bearing on anything except theoretical capacity for physical exertion, and certainly evidence for the idea that personality traits are ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ is sketchy at best. In an ideal world the kind of sexism that insists without evidence on innate gender differences will become as unacceptable as racism is now, and the long term solution is to engage in education and social engineering to achieve this.

    In the meantime, we have to break the cycle and the easiest way is at its weakest point – the joint association of certain personality traits with both ‘leadership’ and ‘masculinity’ with very little evidence to support either assumption. Ensuring that women are visible in top jobs does the trick better than anything else I can think of.

  • Comment number 57.


    Is there still a glass ceiling in the workplace for women?

    I'm all in favour of equal opportunities, but positive discrimination — instituted by some employer's — must come to an end.

  • Comment number 58.

    #49 Harwode Magna. Pure jealousy and inefficiency on your part.
    You should have applied for leave earlier. You could have tried looking after your children.
    I get the impression most of the men on this HYS complaining about women at work having their cake and eating it are because they are born sheep and will never clear the glass ceiling for winging about others having unfair advantages and drooling over others cakes while their own rot in some unseen cupboard.

    Ever heard the phrase 'just do it'?
    Unless of course they're all retired like me and not using their companies internet to complain how unfair everything is.

  • Comment number 59.

    So much for the best getting promoted. Now Penny de Valk the Valk and talk the talk wants to have quotas.
    Quotas dont work. Ask the police in their efforts to recruit more black and ethnic officers.
    Promotion should be one merit, the best get it. Nothing else.

  • Comment number 60.

    As a manager I am always trying to identify those employees who have the ability to grow into more senior roles. In my experience the talent is spread equally between men and women. But that should result in an equal career progression of men and women, and it doesn’t.

    When I offer a man a promotion, he always grabs that opportunity. But women often refuse the promotion. They usually say that they are happy in their job, as it allows them to spend enough time with their family. And that is where, for a manager, the discussion stops. Even if I disagree with the domestic arrangements of my employees and their male partners, it is none of my business. I cannot promote someone against their will. And I am certainly not going to sack someone from their current role if they are doing a great job and want to keep doing it.

    So the men go on to do bigger and better things, and the women stay behind. It is not because there is a deliberate company policy to have a glass ceiling in place, but because the women, when they are offered the chance to move upwards, don’t take that chance.

    Of course there are many things a company can do to make it easier for women (and men!) to combine their work with their family life. Flexible working hours, maternity leave, paternity leave, there are a number of options.

    But ultimately the glass ceiling has to be broken at home. Until men and women learn to equally share their domestic responsibilities, the women will always have a disadvantage in the labour market.

  • Comment number 61.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 62.

    I'm not sure there's a 'glass ceiling' in my workplace. A lot of the senior staff are women and they seem to be doing OK.

    As a single childless man of mid-level seniority I have the happy pleasure of having to fit in around all of those with families when planning my annual leave. I haven't had the days in between Christmas and New Year off in five years because the office has to be 'staffed' (although in that period I'm often alone in the section and may not be operating at peak efficiency). It's almost impossible for me to take more than a week off during the school holidays for the same reason.

    It's also assumed that I'm more than happy to work long hours to meet deadlines while other members of staff head home to look after the kids.

    We all get the same salary percentage bonuses based on the productivity of the 'team', the singletons (single ladies included in this) average 50 hours a week while those with families almost never work longer than their 35 hour contracted hours.

    To me that seems unfair.

  • Comment number 63.

    "Is there still a glass ceiling in the workplace for women?"

    Only when they don't get a job they think they should have got regardless of whether they were the best person for it or not.

    So called 'Positive Discrimination' is both sexist/racist and unfair. Why promote the second, third or fourth best to a role to make the stats look good? If you work hard enough and are the best, you should get the job regardless of gender or race. If it skews the stats then so be it!

    Finally, if you go away and have a child or two for a few years you will not have as much experience as someone who stayed and worked during this time. You will also have potentially been left behind in as much as you would not have been around when new things came into force thus have less/no experience of it. This means that despite being as well qualified as others, you haven't the experience or history they have. That does not make a glass ceiling on the part of the employer, it is a self imposed glass ceiling by making a life/career choice! The sooner such things are taken into account, the sooner people will realise that the glass ceiling is well and truly smashed.

  • Comment number 64.

    Speaking as a woman, my expereince has been that career-minded women often expect do do well despite needing to take time off to have a baby, take the kids to parents evenings, work from home because little Johnny is poorly, expect men to do the man things like lifting heavy boxes and opening doors. Succesful women are often agressive and rude to thier less sucessful colleagues.

    However, they are also often pushed out of social activities that men use to feather their own nests, and treated with suspicion. Women often havew to fight to get recognition even if they don't take time off and act like men.

    I don't think there is a glass ceiling for women, but male dominated industries and companies do have a glass floor that no-one who isn't part of the club can get over.

  • Comment number 65.

    Re: 56. At 11:23am on 21 Feb 2011, Matt Bright

    Can I nominate this post for the "most impressive sounding clap trap of the thread" award?

    I love the irony in the surname too.

  • Comment number 66.

    Ladies if you reach the glass ceiling, give it a good clean whilst you are there please !

  • Comment number 67.

    Half of the Arab World is up in arms and we have this moronic post probably by the 30 something Females at BBCNews yet again.
    Any chance we can have topics that are truly important, or are the brain dead at the BBC going to take total control of this site?

  • Comment number 68.

    Firstly, it has to be said that astute businessmen are reluctant to promote executive females choosing to wear mini skirts and low cut tops because they feel that clients will not treat them seriously. Secondly, in my experience executive women are more ruthless than men, fail to see the bigger picture, and often have poor customer relation skills. These are generalisations, but it falls within the risk assessment in the recruitment and promotion process.

  • Comment number 69.

    it all depends on where the man is sitting??

  • Comment number 70.

    My wife has read the HYS I sent in, she has been employed in industry, and for the last fifteen years in schools. She is adamant that males make far better bosses all round than the ladies (Bless em.) Given the option she will not work for a woman superior.

  • Comment number 71.

    If groups of people were equal then they would be equally represented at every level. The fact that they are not demonstrates empirically that they are not equal.

  • Comment number 72.

    33. At 10:55am on 21 Feb 2011, korat102 wrote:
    A talent ceiling certainly. When I worked for a well known multi national telecommunications company we had lots of up and coming female 'talent' getting the top jobs. Every single one of them had a huge chip on their shoulder and they decimated the company.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    "Every single one of them had a huge chip on their shoulder". Wow.
    Statistically, I wonder what the likelihood of that being true is. And the old "chip on the shoulder" routine is the same one that is inevitably attributed to those who are systematically discriminated against and who have the temerity to complain about it.
    How very dare they ?


  • Comment number 73.

    Re: Sue Denim, 65

    Care to actually refute any of what I've said?

    Here's a hint: try using 'evidence'.

    (Just to be clear on definitions, anecdotes, vague personal feelings and unsubstantiated assertions claimed as ‘common sense’ are not ‘evidence’. )

  • Comment number 74.

    In certain walks of life, there is certainly still a reluctance, and I would put it no more strongly than that, to appoint women to the most senior positions. In others, this is not true. Retail, for example, is a case in point. The answer to the remaining imbalance is certainly not to impose quotas. That simply means ticking yet another politically correct box and appointing people to positions that they may well not be properly qualified to hold, or qualified on paper, but not necessarily competent in practice. We cannot dictate this type of thing. The education system is fully open to all comers, and what you as an individual make of your education and thereafter your working life, is pretty much in your own hands - male or female. If you genuinely want something badly enough, then you will work for it no matter your gender.
    Discrimination, even positive discrimination, is still discrimination and should have no place in a modern business environment. If you want to see a classic example of the wrong person in the wrong job, take a look at Baroness Ashton's abysmal record! Talent is all that matters, and a bit of mentoring also goes a long way to bringing good people to the fore. For women, work/life balance can be a major issue, and put quite simply, many women do indeed want to have a career and a family, but would find family life incompatible with an incredibly demanding job, and so settle for something a bit less full on.

  • Comment number 75.

    re #44 I didn't even bother applying to a major London transport company for an extremely technical engineering job. I was told that the previous political leader had instructed that the position had to be given to a non-white female, qualified or not.

  • Comment number 76.

    Maybe a problem is that if women are the captains of business, then they need to remain on watch, which is the whole point of having them there.

    Hence younger women may be often avoided due to potential of them being taken off watch for a long period due to potential of pregnancy and also career women who have not had children may also be considered a risk due to them being older and thus may ultimately want a child and get pregnant in the full knowledge of their paid entitlement while being unable to lead the business.

    Ask ANY MP, or anyone if it would be suitable to the nature of the job to have a pregnant Prime Minister.

    Women are factually greatly restricted by default of NATURE and it is perverse to forever use and invent other biased assumptions to measure fairness and equality.

    Maybe women would like to pay mens insurance premiums or swap their life span with men.

    Where blatant sexist bias exists then it should be responded to accordingly, but the fact that women are the half of the human species which gives birth might actually suggest that there are factual and relevent differences which should be considered in a range of circumstances.

    Ask ANY group of people if they would prefer economic and financial bias in favour of their group and I bet the vast majority will agree to it.

    The last series of "The Apprentice" on BBC1, showed the true reality of some spiteful ignorant catty and biased young women just as it shows some terrible mens attitudes, ignorance, bias etc.

    Lets please stop pretending that women will make this world a better place, moreso than men. Yes both men & women have something to offer, but the reality is that as women have advanced in society, so too has the level of female obnoxiousness and drunkenness and bad behaviour, and even abuse of power and in some instances has surpassed that of men.

    Labour has had quotas of women, look at the resulting outcome and direction of policys, were they really any better, those policys ultimately just added to unsustainability and long term damage to UK economy, and worse were those policys that attempted to label all men and even women who take children and their childs friends to school and activitys as potential peadophiles.

    Men also experience much bias, especially due to background which also prevents them from attaining high office. I think men and women are relatively equal in bias.

  • Comment number 77.

    Women seem to get totally different treatment to men regarding working from home, flexible hours re this that and everything and anything else etc.

    They can't have it all ways.

    No, I'm not anti women, just anti the fact that men don't get cut anywhere near the slack that the ladies do.

  • Comment number 78.

    This is from a survey done by the ILM - the Institute of Leadership and Management on 2960 of their paying members. Who do you think is going to benefit from this survey ? This is just blantant advertising it is nothing to do with equality in the workplace. They make their money from management and are about to make a lot more by offering their help to remove some glass ceilings. .... Personally I think it would be great to have a glass ceiling, but I'd be worried it might break.

  • Comment number 79.

    If women ran companies like they drive (carefully, cautiously and with consideration for others), then we wouldn't see any men in top positions! Perhaps that's why there aren't more women - generally too nice.

  • Comment number 80.

    Is there still a glass ceiling in the workplace for women?

    Internationally moreso yes, because many foreign cultures including religious beliefs are openly and secretly attrociously and obnoxiously biased against women, hence this will enevitably result in fewer women in UK/west being promoted to top positions in certain businesses of which so many now have international dealings.

    Maybe as social revolution sweeps the middle east, much greater opportunitys for women in the world will resultingly become a reality.

  • Comment number 81.

    61. At 11:34am on 21 Feb 2011, Emzdad wrote:
    ------------------------------------------------------------

    //SNIP (cut n paste of my comment, if you wanna read it it's at #6)
    Sorry rubbishgirl, but you are wrong on this one. As I have said before, having babies is a LIFESTYLE CHOICE. Dont expect others to pay for it.

    And I know of a lot of women whotake the year off, getting paid for it and then jack the job in. If thats not being a bitch then I dont know what is.

    ----------------------------------------------
    Really?? Wrong am I. Hmm
    You say having children is a lifestyle choice, fair enough says I, but is it not the lifestyle choice of both parents? Why are men not expected to bear any responsibilities, or pay any professional price for this decision? Why is it only women that suffer professionally from the decision to breed?
    As I have said on simillar threads before If a woman chooses family & makes that their priority, they will not rise to the top, this is fair enough & their decision, I would also be tempted to say that they should make their employer aware of these priorities so that no time is wasted offering high end promotions they are unlikely to take , but that's for another thread. At some point the chioce between family & a high pressure career have to be made. I have no issue with people that have chosen to be a mother first & a businesswoman second losing out on top positions because these roles demand that your primary focus is your work &, despite what the magazines tell us, you really CAN'T have it all(you'll likely kill yourself trying). My problem stems with the fact that many employers simply will not consider a woman of childbearing age because she MIGHT have children. Do you not consider this unfair? After all statistically a man is more likely to have a debilitating sports injury, leading to a lot of time off but this is never considered. Should a 20-40 year old have to have a hysterectomy & bring the paperwork in to prove it before she's not considered a "childbirth" risk? Women ARE capable of putting their career first, (even at the expense of a family) But of course traditional family roles still demand that it is the woman who is the carer. Perhaps all the men (some of them fathers) complaining on this thread about how women will "inevitably take time off when the child gets ill" would like to ask themselves how many times they rushed homw to attend to their sick offspring. my guess? None, they would expect their wives to do it & yet they still complain when other peoples wives do it! very confusing, you see?
    The point is this: There are plenty of women out there (like myself) who for whatever reason don't want kids,women who are excellent at their jobs & (unlike myself) would like a top role & would be extremely good at it, why on earth should these women be restricted from a high earning job because someone doesn't believe them when they say they don't want kids?
    Anyone who has any doubts that this kind of discrimination is an issue should read comments 3, 15, 26, 38, 49, the extremely patronising 24 & the possible troll at 32. All comments that say women should not be eligable for top jobs because they might breed & this leads to inevitable time off.
    Once again I reiterate that if a woman decides to have a family & be primary carer she will almost always do this at the cost of her career, this is unavoidable & personally doesn't make steam come out of my ears, what DOES is the fact that all women of childbearing age are treated like a "nappy timebomb" this IS discrimination & thoroughly annoys me.


    I agree with the posters that say hard work & experience should be the things that count. The job should go to the best person to do. Ovaries (& the desire to use them) or a lack thereof should not be a consideration

  • Comment number 82.

    BTW I also agree that "positive discrimination" is a crock.

  • Comment number 83.

    73. At 11:55am on 21 Feb 2011, Matt Bright wrote:

    Re: Sue Denim, 65

    "Care to actually refute any of what I've said?

    Here's a hint: try using 'evidence'.

    (Just to be clear on definitions, anecdotes, vague personal feelings and unsubstantiated assertions claimed as ‘common sense’ are not ‘evidence’. )"

    I will if you'll justify with the same.

    (Just to be clear on definitions, anecdotes, vague personal feelings, unsubstantiated assertions claimed as ‘common sense’ and politically correct rhetoric are not ‘evidence’. )

  • Comment number 84.

    I can tell you in Engineering there is NO such thing as a glass ceiling for women. They get promted on their skill and qualification level.
    Same rules apply male or female.
    Women get paid just as much as men and have just the same promotion prospects, to say any different in this feild would be nothing short of a lie.
    However, technical Engineering is not something alot of women see as attractive. And to be frank I dont blame them. Underpaid and overworked comes to mind, and why the UK doesnt make anything anymore. Brilliant grossly underpaid engineers dont encourage a good working environment male or female.

  • Comment number 85.

    The women who find they reach the glass ceiling are the ones who were hired to meet quotas. Women with real ability will reach the level they are capable of. In short, if you're not good enough to break through you're not good enough to be on the other side.

  • Comment number 86.

    76. At 12:05pm on 21 Feb 2011, you wrote:
    Maybe a problem is that if women are the captains of business, then they need to remain on watch, which is the whole point of having them there.

    Hence younger women may be often avoided due to potential of them being taken off watch for a long period due to potential of pregnancy and also career women who have not had children may also be considered a risk due to them being older and thus may ultimately want a child and get pregnant in the full knowledge of their paid entitlement while being unable to lead the business.

    Ask ANY MP, or anyone if it would be suitable to the nature of the job to have a pregnant Prime Minister.

    Women are factually greatly restricted by default of NATURE and it is perverse to forever use and invent other biased assumptions to measure fairness and equality.

    Maybe women would like to pay mens insurance premiums or swap their life span with men.

    Where blatant sexist bias exists then it should be responded to accordingly, but the fact that women are the half of the human species which gives birth might actually suggest that there are factual and relevent differences which should be considered in a range of circumstances.

    Ask ANY group of people if they would prefer economic and financial bias in favour of their group and I bet the vast majority will agree to it.

    The last series of "The Apprentice" on BBC1, showed the true reality of some spiteful ignorant catty and biased young women just as it shows some terrible mens attitudes, ignorance, bias etc.

    Lets please stop pretending that women will make this world a better place, moreso than men. Yes both men & women have something to offer, but the reality is that as women have advanced in society, so too has the level of female obnoxiousness and drunkenness and bad behaviour, and even abuse of power and in some instances has surpassed that of men.

    Labour has had quotas of women, look at the resulting outcome and direction of policys, were they really any better, those policys ultimately just added to unsustainability and long term damage to UK economy, and worse were those policys that attempted to label all men and even women who take children and their childs friends to school and activitys as potential peadophiles.

    Men also experience much bias, especially due to background which also prevents them from attaining high office. I think men and women are relatively equal in bias.

    =========================================

    Might I add, excluding of course some (not all) gypsy culture, and moreso backward religious beliefs which have a huge tendency of bias towards women.

  • Comment number 87.

    For all of you (men?) who are saying that an employer has to take into consideration that a female employee will have to take time off for pregnancy.

    Does that include us women who have made the decision NOT to have children?

  • Comment number 88.

    I'm sure there's plenty of male captains of industry out there who'd prefer glass flooring!

  • Comment number 89.

    Having worked under blokes for years, it was a breath of fresh air to have a lady as our boss. And a damn good work she did too! She was there in the morning before everyone else, greeting and smiling happily, and ho! how I wished I was young again!!
    Compared to the grumpy old so and so who used to run the place like a Death Camp, our production picked up substantially and so did our wages. Couldn't be bad, could it? And from then on, more and more ladies began to come to the fore, and good for them too !!

  • Comment number 90.

    15. At 10:31am on 21 Feb 2011, Blinkin_Annoyed wrote:
    This old cherry again. If a man doesn't get promotion at work he has to reluctantly accept that he wasn't the right man for the job or simply not good enough, the same thing happens to a women and they use it as an opportunity to start whining about sexism etc.....
    ------------------------------------

    I couldn't have put it better myself to be honest with you. After all these years, I am sick to the back teeth of hearing women whine on about how hard dumb by they are. They retire earlier, get better maternity rights than a man gets paternity rights. No ones dares question a woman when she pulls a sick day here and there for menstral cramps, but when I do it, all hell breaks loose.

    The bottom line to all of this is (excluding public sector - which is a whole nother kettle of "anti-men" fish) is that why the hell would you want to work or continue to work for an organisation where this kind of bias toward women exists? What the hell is wrong with you? You're either a martyr to your own stupidity or have some perverse fetish for self inflicted misery.

    The bottom line is that meritocracy, not sex, race or any other excuse should be the driving factor to board membership. So you're either just not up to the job or there is a candidate better suited to the role than you are. the meer fact you are complaining about it and thus expecting some government assistance to get you through the door show just how unsuitable for the role you are in the first place.

    And frankly, I have worked with men and women who serve as senior executives and/or on the board of directors and they're either too frazzled from the stress and workload or are just plain unpleasent and frankly not worth knowing. Why the hell would you want to aspire that that kind of life, makes no sense whatsoever!

  • Comment number 91.

    If there is a glass ceiling, shouldn't they "smash it"?

    You see what I did there....

  • Comment number 92.

    Hmmm...
    Why don't these same people now interview all the unsuccessful MALE candidates for top jobs and ask them about the glass ceiling...

    Is this anything other than more Men are interested in top jobs and the women who don't make it play the sexism card....

  • Comment number 93.

    58. At 11:29am on 21 Feb 2011, MadTom wrote:
    #49 Harwode Magna. "Pure jealousy and inefficiency on your part.
    You should have applied for leave earlier. You could have tried looking after your children."

    I disagree completely - countering selfishness and lack of consideration, with even more ill-mannered behaviour, is not the way to play the game of life.
    Do you really find it jealous and inefficient, to be reasonable and accommodating towards one's colleagues? I was brought up to regard pushiness as a rather common and unattractive character trait.
    And my children were always fine, thank you, and now have children of their own. We lived amongst supportive friends and relatives.


  • Comment number 94.

    1, 5 and 77 says it all for me.


  • Comment number 95.

    I was entirely distracted by the important issue in hand because the story has been illustrated with a photo of a woman's feet in absurd 'stripper' shoes and seamed stockings. Bit of an odd choice given the subject matter, BBC....

  • Comment number 96.

    Would like to comment but am too busy doing my job and also covering for a female colleague away on her maternity leave.

  • Comment number 97.

    85. At 12:19pm on 21 Feb 2011, RightWingIDBanned wrote:

    "The women who find they reach the glass ceiling are the ones who were hired to meet quotas. Women with real ability will reach the level they are capable of. In short, if you're not good enough to break through you're not good enough to be on the other side."

    Thread winner!

  • Comment number 98.

    "32. At 10:55am on 21 Feb 2011, Withnail Xtreme wrote:
    Women will NEVER be equal to men. Just take a look at sports. They have neither the physical, nor mental agility to play on a level field. Thatcher tried it in politics, and conned her way through twelve years with the aid of a troupe of fawning idiots.

    When the going gets tough, the tough start breeding. Then they claim compensation for alleged discrimination. Gives them a bad reputation, deservedly. Who wants to employ a breeder? Nothing will change."

    Biiter or what

  • Comment number 99.

    I really don't care; there are far more important things to put right.

  • Comment number 100.

    Let's ask the Minister for Men what they think?

 

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