Despite well-publicized exceptions, women are the minority in the highest levels of executive leadership—a phenomenon traditionally attributed to workplace barriers collectively termed the glass ceiling. Newer research, however, increasingly implicates self-imposed barriers to women’s advancement.
This suggests that barriers to women might be undergoing a “shift” whereby personal priorities hold greater influence over advancement opportunities than do traditional workplace barriers. We tested this notion via an online survey of fifty-four male and forty-five female global industry leaders. Two main findings emerged. First, contrary to traditional stereotypes, men and women held essentially the same views on career and home life.
Second, data revealed that men and women emphasized self-imposed barriers over workplace barriers as the major obstacles to women’s advancement. The most common selfimposed barriers involved family and household responsibilities holding a higher priority, as well as work–life balance, whereas the most prominent workplace barriers were lack of mentoring, lack of careful career planning, stereotyping, and perception of feminine traits.
We argue that the “glass ceiling” is now predominantly a misnomer and that the current challenges to advancement are best characterized as an “invisible obstacle course” whereby organizations inadvertently fail in helping women to successfully manage their self-imposed barriers via a lack of active leadership development.
Click here ( Adobe Acrobat PDF file) to download the complete article.
Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.