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Ethical Analysis of the Glass Ceiling

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Throughout the span of American history is can be said with confidence that the roles of genders have played a huge role in both the success and downfall of this great nation. From the rural up brings of the Puritans to the successful businessmen and women, politicians, and leaders that have propelled the Untied States to becoming a super power and force to be reckoned with in the world, we are still facing the unfortunate debacle of treating women differently or inferior when it comes to leadership positions.

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Some of our greatest leaders such as Mary Kay, Condalisa Rice, and Irene Rosenfied have been women that have sprung up within the last century in business, poetics, and education. Along with the increase in female leaders we are seeing that may of these women are becoming CEO and Vice Presidents of some of the largest corporations in the United States, for example, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, Avon, and even Google. Whether this philosophy is motivated by a religious mindset or the threat of emasculating the male gender, the question must be asked are women treated differently in leadership positions and more importantly why?

Therefore it is important to take the research conducted in this paper and accurately analyze research supporting and opposing the belief that women are in fact treated differently in leadership positions as well as efforts at correcting this wrong and the ethical analysis of the issues at hand.

The Glass Ceiling According to the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, the term glass ceiling is referred to as “the unseen, yet unbreachable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements” (FGCC 4).

Since the beginnings of America, freedoms have been the catalysts for change. It goes without saying that the male-dominated society has an overwhelming tendency, which translates in to treating women as second-class citizens with definite restricted physical and intellectual freedoms compared to men, who have been “afforded” with such great abilities. For a country that speaks to be the land of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, it seems that all three of these guiding principles have some limitations, of course for the “lower” class of women.

The idea for equality for women in the work force began during the tumultuous 1960s, which included the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement, and the Youth Revolt. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 deemed sexual discrimination in the work place illegal, in hopes that it would afford women to rise in the world of working once they had gained proper experience, either through education or actual work experience. Unfortunately this did not seem to matter to many business as they slowly allowed women to being working, however put a small barrier between upper level management and women.

Research on women in the work force did not begin until the 1970s right around the time when women were becoming managers and consumed about 16 percent of the management positions in the United States (Delvin 24). Although the term “glass ceiling” was not actually coined until the 1980s, two distinct dimensions were formulated by the federal government (Naff 507). The first dimension formulated by the federal government on the glass ceiling affect was the nature of barriers that limit women’s advancement.

These were things such as education, work experience, gender, and even life experience. The second dimension was women’s own perspective of the treatment in the work place (507). Unfortunately many Americans believe that discrimination based upon gender no longer exists or is prevalent in the twenty-first century however that is not the case. In July of 1999, Hewlett Packard, the world’s second-largest computer company, appointed a woman president and chief executive officer.

Many believed that this was the point that “the glass ceiling finally had been shattered,” and that the appointment reflected the absence of barriers that blocked women from promotion to middle and senior management positions (Gregory 5). Yes, the elevation of a women to a CEO position was clearly not an everyday occurrence, however Hewlett-Packard was only the third Fortune 500 company to turn to a woman for leadership at that high of a level. Also, the philosophy of the glass ceiling may have been cracked in this instance, but characterizing it as “shattered” is a gross exaggeration.

According to the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, “97 percent of senior managers of Fortune 1000 Industrial and Fortune 500 companies are white, and 95 to 97 percent are male; in Fortune 2000 industrial and service companies, only 5 percent of senior mangers are women and almost all of that are white” (FGCC 11). These numbers are all put into context by the fact that within our business society, two-thirds of the population and 57 percent of workers are women, minorities or both.

So to say that the issues of the glass ceiling is completely shattered by the promotion of very few women into senior level management positions of Fortune 500 companies is absurd and fraught with arrogance. The degree of freedom women enjoy, or rather do not enjoy, has a great deal to do with the politics of economics. It should come with little surprise to the majority of Americans that this male-dominated society has done and is continue to do little for woman and the needs and importance of the issues is being inadequately addressed by the American legal system that is heavy laden with the ideologies of males.

Therefore it is impetrative to examine research that both supports and opposes the ideology of the glass ceiling. Research Supporting The Glass Ceiling Affect According to a research journal presented by David Cotter and three of this colleges from various universities they believe that four criterion must be meet in order to determine that the glass ceiling exists. They call do not call these discriminations but rather inequalities, and their first inequality that must be met is “A gender or racial difference that is not explained by other job-relevant characteristics of the employee” (Cottter 657).

Essentially this means that the glass ceiling is measured as a residual difference based upon race after you take into consideration education, experience, abilities, motivation, and other job-relevant characteristics. They state in their research that yes this is a factor however extensive research cannot be conducting on this ideology because it constitutes pin pointing every relevant characteristic to a job which can be al most impossible.

The second inequality that must be met is, “A gender or racial difference that is greater at higher levels of an outcome than at lower levels of an outcome” (658). Essentially what the professors were speaking about in this criterion is that the higher you get in an organization, in regard to leadership positions such as CEO, CFO, etc. , the more likely gender will have an immense role on ones ability to earn a greater amount. For example, gender will affect the probability of someone earning over $100,000 greater than it will affect the probability of someone earning over $30,000.

This is obviously an issue not only in the business world, but also in the political, scientific, education, etc. , world as well. Their third inequality that must be met is “A gender or racial inequality in the chances of advancement into higher levels, not merely the proportions of each gender or race currently at those higher levels” (659). This criterion basically speaks of the inability for someone based on gender to receiving a promotion to a higher position and raise of income that are proper to their performance.

If a promotion test would be conducted and the company was proven to given men more promotions and higher wages when promoted over women, then a glass ceiling would in fact be set at that company or industry which would constitute discrimination. The final inequality that must be met is “A gender or racial inequality that increases over the course of a career” (661). This final test observes that over the course of careers, we are less likely to see more women then men in career trajectories and in those trajectories for women they should be flatter curves.

This would indicate that women are less likely to have more or greater work experiences based upon gender, because they have not been afforded those opportunities to do so. Once anyone of those four criterions is met within a business, school, corporation, political environment, it is safe to say that a glass ceiling has been established for that specific entity. But why use the metaphor glass ceiling? Well according to Sally Davies-Netzley, the glass ceiling is metaphor which is often been used to describe invisible barriers, such as glass, through which women and other minorities, can see elite positions but cannot reach them, such as a ceiling (Davis-Netzley 340). Unfortunately many of these “glass ceilings” prevent women and minorities from obtaining high level, prestigious, powerful jobs in our society today. In the article Through the Glass Ceiling: Prospects for the Advancement of Women in the Federal Civil Service, by Katherine Naff she presents statistical and empirical data on findings of a glass ceiling within the workforce that was conducted by the Center for Personal Data File.

The Center for Personal Data File (CPDF) conducted research on the topic of the glass ceiling as well and also came up with some interesting findings that support the idea that a glass ceiling does in fact exists. However, the research also states that the affects of the glass ceiling may not be as prevalent in our society today as once thought. In their general statement about their findings that state that from 1974 to 1990 the distribution of men and women in senior executive jobs are beginning to level out.

Women have actually quintupled their higher-level positions during this time period yet still only hold 11 percent of the top jobs. Although the representation of women in professional and administrative jobs have double, women still held 80 percent of clerical jobs in 1990 (Naff 507). The data on promotions rates show that women and men were promoted at nearly the same rate at every grade level, but with two exceptions in mind. However these are entry-level positions in professional companies, which seems to state that a glass ceiling does in fact occur, but where the ceiling is placed is to be questioned.

The factors that affect career advancement stated by the focus group discussion were experience, education, relocation, time devoted to the job, and children. The first two factors relate to human capital. For example, seniority or the amount of time spent in a position helps the promotion rate of all employees, as well as the education level of employees. These are both two factors that hinder women in their pursuit of higher positions, especially in the government sector. On average women have 10. 3 years of service and men have 13. 6 years of service.

The same is true with education the higher level of education the less difference there is in regard to promotion (508). The third factor, which was made important by the survey data groups on career advancement, is the number of geographic relations and employee has made during their career. Women actually limit their advancement by being less willing to relocate than men. The majority of research indicates that relocations occur because an employee is taking the initiative to apply for a career enhancing positions in another location (510).

This leads many to believe that the glass ceiling has little to nothing at all to do with promotion in regard to gender, but rather women are forcing this lower promotion rate upon themselves by their unwilling ness to educate themselves, do their time in the company, or seek higher employment in other areas of the country. The fourth factor that leads many to believe that this is a self-imposed ceiling is the amount of time that is spent working on your job each week. Research shows that on average 24 percent than women work 46 or more hours a week.

The reason behind such findings is based on the idea that women that have children have a paternalism that discourages them from actually work on and apply for certain jobs. According to the researchers, these findings suggest that the glass ceiling is comprised of organizational requirements, which work against women. This leads to our last factor, which is the impact of children. Woman are overlooked more if they have children because it is assumed that they are unable to fulfill the required job without distractions and therefore are bypassed for important career-enhancing assignments, developmental opportunities and promotions.

The author states that, “ women have not advanced as rapidly as men in part because, on average, they have less experience and education” (512). She also states that, “women have also bumped into a glass ceiling consisting of a tradition of evaluating employees according to visible, easily quantifiable criteria such as how many times they have relocated, or how much time they spend at work. ” This criteria, as long as it remains in effect may very well overlook some of the most qualified employees for the job and from the research indicates that the majority of those overlooked will be women.

There is something however called subjective discrimination which is, “ the perception that one’s situation is discriminatory” (512). This perception causes high levels of low self-esteem, withdrawal, resignation and poor work. The research group conducted a short survey, which questioned women and their belief that their managers and organizations consider them incapable of performing their jobs until they prove themselves, and about one third of the survey population indicated that state was true (513). Other research that supports the glass ceiling that women encounter is dependant on their weight, looks and race..

According to research conducted by Katherine ?Haskins and Edward Ransford in The Relationship between Weight and Career Payoffs among Women they believe that, “…weight is related to income…and is significantly related to occupational positions, especially in male-domineering occupations” (Haskins 296). Women are significantly more apt at obtaining a higher-level job position if they are a certain weight and are significantly more attractive compared to women who are overweight but have the same if not more qualifications for the position.

Women of various ethnical descents also face discrimination in the work place. For example, a white female is more likely to obtain a job than an Asian or African American female. African American females make up only 1 percent of the total board seats in large corporations and business, in comparison to the almost 12 percent of white women who hold securing upper level executive positions. On top of that African Americans earn an average of 21 percent less than their white counterparts who work and perform the same job.

Although the high level of discrimination towards African Americans and various other races is slowly diminishing within our American culture, this issues is still something that many people face on a day to day biases, especially women within the corporate world. Unfortunately, women are being held back within our great nation for the mere satisfaction of appeasing the male dominated workforce for so long. This ideology of capping women’s ability to gain high level executive position promotions based upon their gender is in fact wrong and should be rectified.

Therefore we will take into consideration agencies and programs within organizations that are seeking to rectify and ratify the wrongs that the women of our great nations have had to suffer within the past. The Opposing View For many Americans, the disgust with the fact that the glass ceiling and the right for women’s equality is beginning shoved in their face, slowly is taking a toll on many that have an opposing view of this glass ceiling.

Some are suggesting that in our modern day there is no such thing as a glass ceiling and that only existed in the 1950s to 1970s due to the lack of positions that were available to women, such as nurse, teacher, administrative assistant, etc. They believe that now that woman have the freedom to pick and chose careers, it is just an excuse of positions that they apply for and are not qualified. Tracy Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE, and author, who performs fraud examinations and financial investigations writes in a column for AOL Finance and Investments, believes that the glass ceiling is mythical and no longer exists.

She states her article, the Mythical “Glass Ceiling” for Women, that “the glass ceiling is an imaginary concept that no longer exists, and is merely an excuse. It makes for good sound bites and discussion, but this isn’t an issue that we need to spend time lamenting, because it really isn’t an issue except in some rare cases” (Coenen). Although the top-level positions in businesses are not yet in the hands of women, females are enthusiastically continuing to break their way through the “glass ceiling”.

The Strategic Management Journal, states that “women’s representation on corporate boards continues to grow” and “Catalyst has reported that women now hold 10. 6 percent of large firm board seats”. Bullard and Wright recognize the problem of the glass ceiling, yet they have also made notice of women’s considerable progress in securing top administrative jobs. They reported that regardless of women’s progress being made by avoiding, rather than breaking the glass ceiling, men and omen are becoming more alike in educational levels, graduate degrees, salary levels and hours worked per week (Bullard 198). Women are meeting the same standards of men and are becoming highly more competitive for the same job positions. Religious View on Equality Regardless of whether you are a Christian or not religion plays a huge role in the sociality up bring of many in our country. The glass ceiling does not only appears in the business, educational and political realms, but also in the church.

Many women are treated extremely different in numerous church, being forced to take a dependent role next to their husbands and are unable to secure teaching positions. Pastoral positions are impossible for women to obtain, limiting women to serving and working in Sunday school for youth and children. The number of women that have risen to clergy or pastoral position in church remains remarkably low and some have suggested that clergy positions are a partially feminizing occupation.

Yet according to Jimi Adams in his essay, Stained Glass makes the Ceiling Visible: Organizational Opposition to Women in Congregational Leadership, he states that, “…the vast majority of clergy in the United States are still men” 85. 7 percent to be exact according to the U. S. Bureau of Census (Adams 80). This is extremely startling in the sense that women are slightly more involved than men in the religious congregational participation and general leadership of church and have even outpaced men in the enrollment into seminary programs.

Seminaries are even pushing women aside, believing that their role is satirically maternal limiting them classes, which males are allowed to take and females are pushed to take more “homemaking” classes. One such seminary that has taken steps to secure a glass ceiling in the education of women at their school is Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In their statement on biblical manhood and womanhood, they believe that, “the widespread ambivalence regarding the values of motherhood, vocational homemaking, and the many ministries historically performed by women. They believe that the denial or neglect of these principles of manhood and womanhood will lead to increasingly destructive consequences in our families, churches, and the culture at large. The issues of the glass ceiling in the religious sector may never be resolved due to the fact that many religious men are set in their ways and beliefs, but woman do not have to be held back by such prehistoric beliefs in the business world. The Fight Against So what is being done about this issue? Are there any laws in place to afford women equal rights? The answer is yes.

The United States is beginning to own up to it chauvinistic mindset and has been since woman began fight for suffrage rights in the early 1920s. Once such at which was mentioned earlier was the Civil Right Act of 1964, which banned sex discrimination in the workplace. This law also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which battles workplace discrimination. It also enacted affirmative action, which means “reaching out to women, blacks, and members of other racial or ethnic minorities, and drawing them into the mainstream of American Life,” (Weiss 94).

Another tool that is slowly dismantling the Glass Ceiling is know as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which is the primary means for combating sex discrimination in education. According to the law it states that, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance” (Galles). Although many women were being treated fair, NCAA sports programs had to go under stricter compliances by offer an equal amount of women’s sports as there are men’s sports.

As we know that women who have children are put at a disadvantage and are at times overlooked for positions, the Family Leave Act which was put into law in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, allowed for workers, like women, to take time off to care for a child, parent, or spouse during a medical emergency. This Act unfortunately came alone with heavy fire and complaints form business stating that they could not afford the extra expense and that FMLA would lead to unintentional discrimination against lower paid workers (Zimmerman 10).

However this act allowed women to take necessary time of for births yet still be considered for promotions once they returned to their positions. Many more bill, acts, and comities have since been enacted and formed to continue the strenuous fight against the glass ceiling. The responsibility not only now lies in the hands of Americans and businessmen, but also the woman that are fight for their right to work in executive level positions.

They now have a responsibility to educate themselves, get the work experience they need for those positions, and begin fervently seeking out high-level positions, because the only thing that is holding them back now is themselves. Ethical Analysis of the Glass Ceiling Therefore we come down to the main issues of whether or not it is ethical to treat woman differently based upon their gender and prevent them from obtaining not only high level executive positions in business, but also high level leadership positions in politics, church, school, and so on.

First it is imperative to examine if any ethical absolutes are broken by the ideology of the glass ceiling? From extensive examination and research it can be said with confidence that the glass ceiling breaks the ethical absolute discrimination, based on the fact that denying economic opportunity based on an insignificant difference such as gender, has been effectively accomplished. Along with breaking ethical absolutes, the glass ceiling breaks laws and legislation that has been put in place to fight discrimination based upon gender rather than experience.

A teleological test indicates that the outcome for organizations and institutions that set glass ceilings for their female employees are only setting themselves up for investigation by now federally regulated committees such as the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission. A deontological test shows that a corporation has a duty to up hold and afford equal employment opportunities to all regardless of gender, race, religious view, or sexual orientation.

A utilitarian test would indicate that the most good for the most amount of people would be for companies, organizations, and institutions to afford woman and minorities equal opportunities for advancement within their companies, because it is not just the moral thing to do, but ethical. After breaking not only the ethical absolute of discrimination, but also laws it is safe to say with confidence that the glass ceiling is unethical for business, organizations, and religious institutions to practice, whether knowingly or not.

Conclusion In conclusion, the glass ceiling is still alive and flourishing in our economic society yet it is slowly beginning to fade. As women gain significantly more high-level executive ?jobs in the corporate world and begin to climb the corporate ladder more opportunities will arise. Women of different races will begin to find ?better opportunities as more people accept diversity and in general, women will be treated significantly different lending corporate success to be achieved in various other ways.

Although the glass ceiling is an issue that women pursuing promotions within their career should take careful consideration of, unfortunately, women may still hit the glass ceiling in their jobs, schools, churches and throughout society. Women are and should continue to fight to dismantle and break through the glass ceiling to achieve their desires and career goals. Despite how determined women are, the glass ceiling is still prevalent in our society and it is one hundred percent unethical to limit the female gender the right to obtain the same job that is afford to males.

Also, rejecting a women the right to obtain an executive level position because of her race, appearance or gender withholds her right to possess the same opportunities as her male counterpart. To claim that the glass ceiling no longer exists would be an outcry of untold proportions, due to the fact that many woman are indeed treated extremely differently than men. This bold act of discrimination may at times be significantly subtle to the common person, however denying a woman the right to a job because of her gender will not go unnoticed.

Cite this Ethical Analysis of the Glass Ceiling

Ethical Analysis of the Glass Ceiling. (2016, Nov 14). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/ethical-analysis-of-the-glass-ceiling/

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