Have you ever been in a room with a glass ceiling? You get the illusion that you are looking right at the sky and can reach for it whenever you wish. But if you get carried away and actually attempt to move any part of your body through it, you would face an unfriendly collision with the glass.
I like to think it’s sort of like a person saying enthusiastically to you “Yes you can!” And when you say “Really?” , he/she goes “No you can’t, sit your ass down!”. The glass ceiling describes the seemingly invincible barriers that prevents a group of people especially women, from getting a promotion at work.
The glass ceiling is further evidenced in the research that shows that women are 18% less likely to be promoted than their male counterparts, and that a woman’s gross hourly earnings were averagely 16% less then that of their male coworkers.
The glass ceiling is a fancy name for discrimination based on a person gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. The effect of the glass ceiling gets worse depending on how many marginalized groups a person belongs to. For example, white women earn less than their male counterparts, but black women earn even lesser than white women and a black Muslim bisexual woman would earn even significantly less than a black heterosexual Christian woman.
It’s crazy but even crazier to think that a lot of corporate bodies and organizations deny the existence of a glass ceiling. Well, this is understandable because it would be weird if anyone held up a placard that read “I’m a racist homophobe”.
Over the past few decades, there has been a rise in feminism and as a result, there has been more agitation for the obliteration of a glass ceiling. It is a pretty simple and reasonable negotiation; if they do the same work, let them earn the same and if they are qualified for a promotion, let them receive that promotion regardless of their gender, religion, race or sexual orientation.
The responsibility of shattering the glass ceiling falls on everyone; men, women, corporate bodies etc because chances are that you are either directly affected or at least know a person who is affected by this glass ceiling.
There are couple of things that we could do as women to contribute to the obliteration of the glass ceiling and one of them is to call out sexism when you see it. If you feel the presence of a glass ceiling at your place of employment, bring it up with your supervisor or boss and ask them to reevaluate the system for any form of bias or discrimination.
It is important to know that a glass ceiling is not an indication of lack of competence on your part. For example, if you have worked your ass off at your job and are due for a promotion but instead lost the promotion to a less experienced male coworker, it doesn’t make you less competent or bad at your job. Understand that you are competent but in a system that works against you. You also reserve the right to leave a place you feel burdened with a glass ceiling in search of an equal environment because at the end of the day, we are responsible for our own development.
Read Also: You Say You Don’t Need Feminism? I Am Sorry!
Chisom Anastasia Nwaezuoke is a physiotherapist, writer, public speaker and yogi. She is also a sexual health and reproductive rights advocate and volunteers for HandsOff Initiative.