It Matters Who Is Imposing The Glass Ceiling

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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?

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jgh
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jgh

We’ve clearly got to make it illegal for individual women to make individual choices. Force them into 50-hour/week high-powered executive jobs whether they want to or not.

TD
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TD

In the real world capitalists, entrepreneurs and CEOs often do things that come from their personal values or interests and take actions that may not help increase profits. The founders of Chick-fil-A is a noted example keeping his stores closed on Sundays. I think you could say that a benefit of capitalism is the increased odds that if successful you’ll be able to live your life more as you would like to live it. Of course, there are people who rage against that.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

capitalists, entrepreneurs and CEOs often do things that come from their personal values or interests and take actions that may not help increase profits.

But you can only do this if you effectively control the company (or a majority of shareholders agree with your views).

TD
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TD

A CEO of an old public company with dispersed shareholders (ie, the original founder’s family just doesn’t own enough of it any more) can pretty much ignore shareholders so long as he keeps profits and valuations up. Should they slide to a point where he becomes vulnerable to a raider, then indeed he’ll find there’s a new sheriff in town. Privately held firms that don’t have venture or private equity shareholders have more flexibility and in my observations, the owners of successful private firms have a multitude of interests, many of which don’t involve running their businesses for profit maximization,… Read more »

Spike
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Spike

If a corporation filled with random employees and serving random customers had a CEO who shut all the outlets down on Sundays on a whim, it would seem like self-mutilation and initiating a proxy fight for control of the corporation would seem lucrative.

Chick-fil-A comprises employees mostly happy to make Sunday their day off, and customers who view the policy as a virtue statement. This is a concept that doesn’t harm business but encourages it.

Pcar
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Pcar

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 Agree. With women it could be low testosterone and/or high oestrogen and/or different brain & body Let’s try another “Glass Ceiling” The alternative explanation is that it’s non-WASPs themselves – in aggregate, we’re not talking about some outbreak of backstabbing and bitching –… Read more »

Boganboy
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Boganboy

As always, my opinion is based on my self-interest. Since I might be making use of these businesses, I want their staff to the best possible.

Thus I don’t care whether they’re male, female or other. Or whether they’re scarlet, purple, black, green or even—shudder—-white. I just want perfect service.

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

More to the point, who cares whether 20-30 women get an even better job? I’m pretty sure there are bigger issues that concern far larger numbers of women than this?