The Global Glass Ceiling

Women and men are not regarded as equals, especially in the workforce. In the United States, and around the world, this is evidenced through the gender wage gap, through sexual discrimination during interviews, and through occupational barriers to entry in the labor force. Today, labor force statistics exhibit succinct evidence of the existence of a glass ceiling for American women.
According to research conducted by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EOC) in 2013, American women have seen increased labor force participation rates from the mid-1960s onward. However, despite overall increases in labor force participation rates for women, occupational barriers to professional and administrative positions still exist. In 2013, women occupied only 38.6 percent of administrative or managerial positions.[1] Despite any gains in employment made by women in the last 50 years, American women are still victim to the gender wage gap. The annual median earnings of women working full time in 2013 was $39,157, compared with men at $50,033.[2] The United States still faces continuing challenges concerning the experiences of women in the workforce.

This is not just an American phenomenon, however. In modern-day Russia, positions which require few technical skills and have limited capacity for promotion are reserved for women. These positions include cashiers, human resources managers, and personal assistants and are often associated with low salaries.[3] Positions associated with higher pay and greater degrees of authority are reserved for men. Corporate officers, administrators, and university department heads are usually male.[3] It is becoming increasingly more common to see women in managerial positions in the service industry, but the power and privileges associated with high-ranking positions in this industry are not comparable to those in corporate or administrative settings. Female segregation into occupations associated with lower wages, like the service industry, emerges as the main contributor to the gender pay gap. According to data collected by the World Bank, in Eastern Europe the earnings gap between men and women persists regardless of matching characteristics (i.e. age, education, marital status, presence of children in the household) between employees of either sex.[4] Women are systematically barred from employment in high-paying sectors of the job market due to discrimination. Pervasive inequality for and discrimination against women in the workplace is evident.
On an optimistic note, there is increasing labor force participation of women in Russia. Unfortunately, the hindrances to women’s career mobility still exist there, as well. Still, there is hope for female citizens of some former Soviet satellites as the EU has made definitive attempts to crack the glass ceiling through targeting gender discrimination in the workplace through anti-discriminatory policy.[5] Policy is only one step in the right direction. Here is to hoping that the glass ceiling will be a figment of our daughters and our daughter’s daughters imaginations.
[2] “AMERICAN EXPERIENCES VERSUS AMERICAN EXPECTATIONS.” American Experiences Versus American Expectations. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 3 Aug. (2015). Web. 02 Dec. 2016.
[3] “Women in the American Workforce.” Women in the American Workforce. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2013). Web. 02 Dec. 2016.
[10] “Labor Force, Female (% of Total Labor Force).” Labor Force, Female (% of Total Labor Force) | Data. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.
[11] “GENDER EARNINGS GAPS IN THE WORLD.” WORLD DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2012(n.d.): n. pag. The World Bank, 20 Apr. 2011. Web. 9 Dec. 2016.
[12] Reding, Viviane. “It’s Time to Break the Glass Ceiling for Europe’s Women | Viviane Reding.” Opinion. Guardian News and Media, 19 Nov. (2012). Web. 20 Dec. 2016.

Anna Graff

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