By: Natasha Archary
Call it what you want, the “glass ceiling” or “mommy track” still boils down to the same thing – female inequality in the workplace. Who knows when the term was penned, but one thing’s for sure, several years into the 21st century has done nothing to break this gender stereotype.
Heavily used in the 1980s, corporates the world over pushed this invisible agenda to limit female employees from progressing past a certain point in leadership roles. Promotions and salary bumps were reserved for their male counterparts. Regardless of how hardworking a woman was, her maternal role was often the catalyst for this unfair, discriminatory treatment.
Is the top still reserved for the boys?
Last year, Jonathan Webb detailed the reality of female discrimination in an article for Forbes. The article titled, “Glass Ceiling Still Keeps Top Jobs For The Boys: Women Earn 75% Of Men’s Salary” is an eye-opening account of the vast differences between men and women in the corporate realm.
Not much has changed in 2018. The gender pay divide still persists and this is no different in sunny South Africa. If women do manage to get a seat in the boardroom, the probability that they’re there to merely tick a quota box is highly likely. Which is why, as much as some women believe they’re shattering the glass ceiling, they’re actually nose-diving off the glass cliff.
Strategically selected for board positions only to be used as the scapegoat for apparent failures. The glass cliff theory, at first glance, seems to dispell the notion that women are not making strides to reach the boardroom. See, according to the theory, women are over-represented at board level. Women have actually made it.
Or so they would have us believe. At the current pace of progression, by 2020 there would be a 33% increase in women appointed to board level.
But it’s purely a numbers game. Women reach the pinnacle in their careers with hidden meanings behind their designations.
General sentiment is that women are biologically pre-disposed to be inferior to men career-wise. Once a woman has a child, the consensus is that she will start slacking, take more time off and turn her focus to maternal duties. Women are not geared to dominate the corporate world.
No one is going to admit to there being an actual policy that blatantly discriminates against women. No corporate brand is going to sign off on official paperwork that resigns a small percentage of their female staff to “positions of power” so they meet BEE standards. No, it’s done but you’ll never know it’s the case. Hence the term “glass ceiling”, the invisible barrier that leaves women with no room to grow.
This is why so many women are venturing out into business endeavours of their own. Tired of the shackles and creatively stifled environments they’re in, many have resolved to be a female driven workforce.
We’re by no means close to gender equality in the country, nor on a global scale. The top is still reserved for boys, however you want to spin it. The glass ceiling, it seems, wasn’t meant to be shattered.