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Breaking the Glass Ceiling. Women’s Leadership Summit PRESIDENT’S COMMISSION FOR WOMEN March 1, 2006 A Presentation by Adrienne L. Mercer. UMBC A N H O N O R S U N I V E R S I T Y IN M A R Y L A N D. Breaking the Glass Ceiling.

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Breaking the glass ceiling

Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Women’s Leadership Summit




March 1, 2006

A Presentation by Adrienne L. Mercer





Breaking the glass ceiling1
Breaking the Glass Ceiling

  • “Glass ceiling” – a definition

  • An unofficial barrier to opportunities within an organization or company which is perceived to prevent protected classes of workers, particularly women, from advancing to higher positions.

Breaking the glass ceiling2
Breaking the Glass Ceiling

  • “Glass ceiling”

    • The term was originally used by Carol Hymowitz and Timothy Schellhardt in a March 24,1986 Wall Street Journal article.

    • The term is distinguished from other barriers to advancement such as education or experience.

Breaking the glass ceiling3
Breaking the Glass Ceiling

  • “Glass ceiling”

    • The Federal Glass Ceiling Commission -

      • The Commission was a 21-member bipartisan body appointed by President Bush, as mandated by the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

      • The goal of the Commission was to identify the glass ceiling barriers that blocked the advancement of minorities and women to decision making positions in the private sector.

Breaking the glass ceiling4
Breaking the Glass Ceiling

  • “Glass ceiling”

    • The Commission reported the following as barriers to career advancement:

      • Inadequate recruitment practices.

      • Lack of opportunity to contribute to, and participate in, corporate development programs.

      • Lack of top level ‘ownership’ of EEO principles.

Breaking the glass ceiling5
Breaking the Glass Ceiling

  • “Glass ceiling”

    • The Commission’s report highlighted the following as creative and effective strategies for providing access to middle and upper management opportunities:

      • Carefully-monitored management development plans.

      • Increased emphasis on the recruitment of qualified minority men and women of all races.

      • Initiation of scholarship programs for minority men and women of all races pursuing technical degrees.

      • Implementation of corporate-wide diversity training and awareness programs.

      • Top management commitment to equal access to upper level opportunities.

Breaking the glass ceiling6
Breaking the Glass Ceiling

  • Glass ceiling”

    • Note: The Commission’s report stated that only 5% of the senior managers at Fortune 1000 companies were women. This figure overlooked the fact that, of the qualified labor pool, women were accurately reflected in those senior management positions. This figure was not reflective of the representation of management positions in the National workforce. In actuality, though women represented 46% of the U.S. labor force, women held about half of all management jobs.

    • Since the Commission’s report was released, the number of women in Fortune 500 senior management positions has tripled.

Breaking the glass ceiling7
Breaking the Glass Ceiling

  • Glass ceiling”

    • Question - Does this mean that (workplace) discrimination against women is no longer an issue?

    • Answer – NO.

      • While women have made dramatic gains in the public, private and political arenas, formal legal processes and protections are still necessary to address discrimination and retaliation.

Breaking the glass ceiling8
Breaking the Glass Ceiling

  • Glass ceiling”

    • Question – If/since the glass ceiling exists, what do we do about it?

Breaking the glass ceiling9
Breaking the Glass Ceiling

  • BT; DT; BTTS.



Breaking the glass ceiling10
Breaking the Glass Ceiling

  • Be Prepared.

    • There is no substitute for competence.

    • Don’t neglect to plan.

    • Identify you personal vision, mission, and goals.

    • Look for opportunities; do your research.

  • Be Patient.

    • Don’t insist on overnight success. You may miss valuable lessons along the way.

  • Be Personable , Dependable, andGenerous.

    • Good manners, friendliness, teamwork, excellence, grace, and forgiveness will never be out of style.

    • Integrity, trustworthiness, loyalty and a good sense of humor are invaluable.

    • Deliver the goods.

    • Give back.

  • Be Teachableand a Teacher.

    • Understand the value of flexibility, mentors, and mentoring.

  • Be Introspective, Purposeful, and Soulful.

    • Understand your bent.

    • Find out what you like to do, and then do it.

    • Maintain balance. Count the cost.

Breaking the glass ceiling11
Breaking the Glass Ceiling

  • Finally…

    • Be Determined…

      • Not to crack, force open or break the glass ceiling, but rather to experience a graceful ascent based on choice, character, commitment, creativity, and circumstances.

      • Not to aim for the ceiling, when the universe may be your limit.