Smashing the glass ceiling

The ‘glass ceiling’ is a metaphor given to describe the invisible barrier that women face when aiming for success. But does it exist? And if it does, how can you break through it?

What does the glass ceiling look like?

The glass ceiling is a subtle type of discrimination where you can’t realise opportunities, despite having the skills and experience needed. The term is typically associated with women who may find it hard to bag top jobs. 

The glass ceiling isn’t obviously there, but it is, nonetheless. It exists because of unconscious bias and long-standing traditions. When it’s in action, people don’t get jobs because they don’t have the same background and life experiences as others that have held the position previously.  

Those that feel that they’ve hit the glass ceiling can feel deflated, ignored and inadequate. 

Recognise it

In order to break the glass ceiling, you need to recognise that it exists and push on regardless. If your workplace has little diversity, everybody looks the same and they all say the same things, then it’s likely that it exists in your workplace. 

Don’t take it personally

If you are operating within a culture where the glass ceiling exists, then it’s important not to take rejection personally. You should be patient, work hard, focus on your wellbeing and try and get constructive feedback on your development. 

You may have to push a bit harder than others and although you wouldn’t have to do that in a. ideal world, remember that it isn’t your fault that you’re forced to work harder to show your worth. The system is at fault, not you as an individual. 

Speak up

You don’t have to be aggressive or confrontational when you tackle the issue. But you can do your bit to fight against the glass ceiling. A survey conducted by Development Academy found only 80% of women believe they are assertive at work, compared to 97% of men. So it could be that women need to speak up more to make themselves heard. 

Try and encourage diversity within your workplace and listen and support those around you that have the desire to achieve.

Go it alone

You could, of course, decide to stop trying to prove your worth by going it alone. That way, you won’t have to bash through the ceiling. Make sure you’re getting paid accordingly if you do go down this route though.

It will be worth it

The chances are, if you do break the glass ceiling, you will have a heap more skills and experiences than some of your counterparts. If you had to work harder then that will show. 

You shouldn’t be forced to break invisible barriers, but they exist and if you get through them, you might be all the better for it.