The glass ceiling is this idea that women can go only so far in a career, there’s a barrier to their getting truly to the top. This is, actually, true, there are far fewer women at the top of the various career paths than there are men. The interesting – and important – question is why?
One argument is that it’s just the patriarchy and misogynism of modern capitalism to blame. Therefore it’s up to business to change their ways:
Helping the UK realise its potential in this area is not only about increasing the number of women on boards, but supporting women in work across the whole spectrum. There is still a lack of female representation in several key executive roles in FTSE firms, noticeably in financial roles, which so often serve as that essential stepping stone to the very top jobs. And work by the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London reveals that far too many women continue to face hostile workplace behaviours and environments.
This is the view being put forward by the current Minister in charge of such things, Andrea Leadsom.
It’s also a very odd view. Capitalists – we assume at least – are all greedy bastards. If there’s a source of greater profit out there they’ll take it. Why wouldn’t they want buckshee money after all?
So, if this is all true then it’s a self-solving problem:
This doesn’t simply mean creating a high-skilled workforce, though that is a large part of it: it’s also about talented people getting the chances they deserve. To do this, businesses should be making the most of the vast array of talent and diverse perspectives we have in the UK.
The alternative explanation is that it women themselves – in aggregate, we’re not talking about some outbreak of backstabbing and bitching – are creating that glass ceiling. By having a look at what it takes to get to the top and deciding bugger that for a game of soldiers and deciding to prioritise other areas of life.
Of course, some women don’t, some women do. All we need to be able to explain what we see out there – fewer women at the top than men – is that more women decide bugger it than do men. Even the scantiest of glances around our society show that this does happen. There are more housewives than house husbands. Longer maternity leaves than paternity. More female fitting of work around the family than male.
Whether things should be this way is a matter of opinion. That they are is obvious.
So, the difference is caused by the average choice of the average peep. How is changing what business does going to change that?