Babe, it’s not all chandeliers and disco balls at the top… in fact, trying to reach the top – let alone break beyond it - is historically difficult for leading ladies, no matter their capabilities, intelligence, determination or skill set.
In comes the ‘glass ceiling’: a metaphor that’s been used since around the 80's to represent the invisible barrier that keeps a given demographic (typically applied to women and people of colour) from rising beyond a certain level in a workplace hierarchy. The term was made popular by a group of intelligent, rule-breaking feminists, tackling the career barriers experienced by high-achieving women, but has become applicable to a greater set of minorities over time. Minority women especially experience the most difficulty in ‘breaking’ the glass ceiling due to the fact that they lie at the intersection of two historically discriminated groups: women and P.O.C.
Let’s lay down the facts:
- Just 27.1% of board seats of companies on the Australian S&P/ASX 200 index are held by women.
- Relating to board gender imbalances, the ASX Corporate Governance Council guidelines include a 30% female quota. This isn’t compulsory however, as compliance is enforced only on a 'if not, why not' basis
- As of February 2016, only 4% of CEOs of S&P 500 companies are female.
Ladies, let’s smash that ceiling like it’s the damn patriarchy.
While there are no guaranteed tricks or strategies to break through that ceiling, other women who have broken through typically recount the following actions in their journey to the top;
- Be a two-timer: Dependent on your workplace, you may need to prove yourself twice as much as your male co-workers, especially if you happen to be both female and a minority. Ridiculous, tbh.
- Werk, werk, werk, werk, werk: Take on extra assignments, particularly those that are high-profile.
- Receipts, gurl! Document all of your achievements and present them succinctly at each review.
- Join the club: Become part of the managerial network, even if it feels a little ‘boys club-esque’. You gotta hustle and prove that you are one of them (even though you’ve already proved that you’re approx. 2x better.
Sure, it’s total bull, but there's no doubt that we've made progress. And as more women reach the top and lead our leading companies, it’ll pave the way for new expectations, capabilities and opportunities for women in the workplace. Slower than we’d like, but sure. as. hell.
Amongst many other true rad working women, we’re crushing on these ceiling-shattering superstars for showing the world who’s boss:
- First female Oscar-winning Director, Kathryn Bigelow
- First ever female CEO in the US, Anna Bissell
- First African American women and youngest person to ever serve as the Chairman of the Board, CEO and President of the United States Tennis Association, Katrina Adams
- World's first democratically elected female president, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir (Iceland)
- Senior Vice President of Global Brand Management at Under Armour, Adrienne Lofton
- Mecca Founder, Jo Horgan
Do you have a fave femme killing the game? Say F.U. to the glass ceiling and let us know in the comments below!