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Supporting Women’s Career Advancement

Challenges and Opportunities

Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Mary C. Mattis

This book documents the progress that managerial and professional women have made in advancing their careers, and the challenges and opportunities that remain. In the context of increasing numbers of women entering the workplace and indeed pursuing professional and managerial careers, it examines why so few women occupy the top positions in corporations.
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Chapter 4: Reframing the 'glass ceiling' debate

Yochanan Altman, Ruth Simpson and Yehuda Baruch


4. Reframing the ‘glass ceiling’ debate Yochanan Altman, Ruth Simpson, Yehuda Baruch and Ronald J. Burke1 INTRODUCTION In this chapter we highlight the compound effect of gender, age and seniority in determining the success of career women by presenting evidence and developing an argument for a more differentiated treatment of the ‘glass ceiling’ phenomenon. We bring evidence that young women managers do as well as and even outpace their male counterparts in early career progression but not so at an older age. Coupled with a different set of career aims and lesser experience of career barriers, young women progress in their career until they reach a certain position in the hierarchy, when organizational structures and processes in the form of hidden career barriers disadvantage them. Or do they? Two possible scenarios are explored: (i) that the ‘glass ceiling’ is in process of being demolished and (ii) that the ‘glass ceiling’ has been relocated and repositioned at a higher level of the hierarchy. Two opposing sets of explanations are then forwarded for each scenario. The final demise of the glass ceiling may be due to a radical value change of the younger generation of managers or a consequence of breakthroughs in reproductive technologies enabling women to start a family after completing a full career cycle. The case for the relocation and deferment of the ‘glass ceiling’ may be further evidence to the resilience of prejudice and discrimination against women or indicate that a majority of women do not aspire to top...

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