Have women broken the glass ceiling?

A recent survey entitled Workplace Insights, showed that while almost all American workers believe that women have made important strides in business over the past ten years, 86 percent surveyed still felt the glass ceiling was very much present. 

The survey, conducted by Adecca USA, a Melville, New York-based staffing company, polled 2,521 adults, 1,407 of which were employed on a full-time or part-time basis. The survey featured a spectrum of pay and workplace statuses.  

Adecco USA's Diversity & Inclusion Director, Lois Cooper, says this about the study's findings: "While we continue to see women breaking barriers and taking on more leadership roles in today's workplace, findings from our most recent Workplace Insights survey show that there are still opportunities for progress to be made in the area of gender equality." 

Linda Stewart, CEO and founder of Epoch, LLC in Boston, agrees: "The glass ceiling is not broken," she says, "it's just becoming much more pliable. Women are slipping through the cracks but [their opportunities] are certainly not equal to men." 

The Workplace Insights survey shows that 59 percent of workers surveyed think women are treated differently to men in the workplace, with 42 percent thinking that women are treated worse.  Stewart could not understand the emphasis on equal treatment.

"How big of a problem is that really?" she asks after hearing those survey results. "Men and women are different – in the way that they approach their work and manage… I think sometimes we're afraid to admit that we're different." 

Stewart, previously a senior executive at Fidelity Investments, National Charitable Services and Boston Coach, who some might say has shattered the ceiling herself, noted its effect on her own career: "At Fidelity, I reached a point where I wasn't going to progress any farther," she explains. "That was when I decided to open my own company." 

Epoch LLC is a project-based staffing firm that allows potential employees interested in consulting to name their own salary and working terms. Stewart feels that through this new hiring model, coupled with the latest personnel statistics, (which show that 77 million workers are approaching retirement and only about 40 million coming in to fill those positions) women could stand to further crack the glass ceiling. 

"People will have more of a say in what they get paid, but companies have to be okay with that," Stewart says. "For the first time, the control and power are shifting back to the people… What's happening demographically will accelerate the change." 

The Adecco USA survey, in this same vein, cites that equal treatment at the workplace is getting better for Generation Y. The study found that only 30 percent of Generation Y workers think women are treated worse than men. 

Stewart also sees the currently  male dominated workplace changing in the coming years. She felt the good news is that this pattern will change dramatically because women drive most of the purchasing power and are good at social networking - two necessary skills needed for this change to occur. 

 

While thinking positively, Stewart says that she thinks pay disparity will be closed soon.

  

 

"The gap is closing, although it's not moving as fast as most of us would like," she says.

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