Woman professor shatters 'glass ceiling'

September 08, 1999

The so-called "glass ceiling" which prevents women from being promoted to senior positions at work is just an illusion, according to Professor Valerie Randle, Welsh Woman of the Year, writing in Interdisciplinary Science Reviews. The lack of women in high-ranking positions is often attributed to a "glass ceiling" that prevents women and other minority groups from advancing their careers, despite their qualifications and experience.

Randle, from the University of Wales, Swansea, argues, "The glass ceiling concept is not constructive because it implants unnecessary preconceptions [and] persuades women to expect to be unfairly treated." Instead, she blames the imbalance on the differing attributes and aspirations of men and women at work together. Men, she says, are more aggressive and more prepared to work long hours for promotions.

Men occupy the vast majority of senior positions, and may even be fast-tracked into them. Women, particularly in science, technology and engineering, tend to remain lower down the scale. But, Randle argues, men and women are never likely to be evenly balanced in senior positions, especially as there is not even a direct 50:50 split in lower grade employment.

According to her latest research, however, increasingly more women are likely to aspire towards senior management positions, attracted by growing schemes such as networking and mentoring, which lend support and encouragement to both women and men as they begin new jobs in fiercely competitive workplaces.

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