Women in Business
特集：ビジネス英語 > Article 1: THE GLASS CEILING
Shanti has worked for a mid-sized technology firm in India for 12 years. For the first few years, she progressed rapidly through the ranks, from an entry level position to her current position in middle management. She has a proven track record with her company, and she has always received positive feedback from her managers. Last year, she completed her MBA studies from a top international university. Recently, she was passed over for a promotion to a senior management position. The successful candidate, Rajiv, is new to the technology industry and has only been with the company for two years, therefore he has considerably less experience than Shanti. While he has taken some university courses in the past, he's never actually earned even an undergraduate degree. He has, however, forged strong relationships with several members of the senior management team - all of whom are men. Shanti has also tried to break into the senior management clique, but so far, has not been able to do so. She suspects gender discrimination is the reason she is not welcome in the inner circle of senior management - and the reason she didn't get the promotion.
Michelle had a successful career in advertising sales for an American publishing company for eight years, before she went on maternity leave for one year following the birth of her first child. When she returned to work, she planned to pick up where she left off, and continue to climb the corporate ladder as she had before the birth of her child. On her first day back to work however, she found that all of her top national accounts had been permanently reassigned to her male colleague, and that her portfolio now included only small local accounts. When she spoke to her boss about this later that day, he explained that the large national accounts would be better managed by someone who had the flexibility to work long hours and travel on business as needed. Michelle explained that she'd prepared for this by hiring a full-time, live-in nanny to care for her child while she was a work, and that she could therefore devote the time that was needed to successfully manage her former portfolio. Her boss was appreciative and sympathetic, but he refused to give her back her former portfolio.
Reiko graduated from one of Japan's most elite universities, with excellent grades. She was ambitious, and she had plans for a career in the financial sector. When she started her job interviews in her senior year however, she found that she was being asked frivolous questions about her social life, and her preferences in music and movies. After many interviews, the only job offers she received were for administrative positions - positions that offered very limited opportunity for career advancement in her field. Meanwhile, her male classmates - many of whom had lower grades than Reiko - were being offered coveted positions in management trainee programs.
Have Shanti, Michelle and Reiko hit the glass ceiling?
Despite the tremendous progress of career women in recent years, very few women occupy senior management positions in business today. Professional women are as intelligent, educated and qualified as their male colleagues, but corporate culture is preventing them from being promoted to the executive level. After they reach middle management positions, these women often find themselves hitting the "glass ceiling".
The glass ceiling is an invisible barrier that prevents women from advancing in their careers, simply because they are women. Most organizations refuse to admit that it exists - but many women say it does.
Gender equality is a controversial issue in the workplace today. While companies try to project an image of fairness, when examined closely, we find that instead, they tend to exclude women from certain positions for a variety of reasons.
Some people contend that men are more ambitious, aggressive and outspoken than women, and therefore have greater potential for success in the realm of business. They claim that women are the "weaker sex", and are therefore not suited to positions of power. Furthermore, many women find it impossible to break into male-dominated professional networking circles, where critical alliances are often made. The "old boys club" is alive and well - and women are not welcome.
Many women take time off to have children, and after they return to work, they are frequently absent to care for their children. There are therefore higher risks associated with hiring and promoting women. Companies want to ensure they're going to get a good return on their investments in human resources, so when they have a choice between a man and a woman, they will often choose the man - not necessarily because he is more qualified, but because he is the "safer" candidate.
Can women break through the glass ceiling and assume positions of leadership? The answer is "yes" - everyday, women are overcoming resistance from their male counterparts and moving into roles traditionally dominated by men. Their continued courage and determination will eventually result in a powerful shift in corporate culture - and true gender equality in the workplace.
- Does the glass ceiling exist in Japan?
- Please describe the challenges women in business face today.
- Please describe the progress women in business have made in recent years.
- Have you, or someone you know, hit the glass ceiling? If so, please explain what happened.
- How can women break through the glass ceiling in Japan?
- Some people say that the glass ceiling doesn't exist - that instead, women are responsible for their own inability to succeed in business. Do you agree or disagree with this opinion? Please explain your answer.