Human society is like a single organism, and each person desires to take a particular place in it. Sometimes, it is very difficult to become an integral part of any society. Its functionality depends on the thoughts and actions of every citizen. Each country has its own unique ideas of right and unacceptable as well as good and repulsive. Standards of society determine the likelihood of a person’s opportunities to successfully fit its framework and follow the laws. However, there are orders that are nowhere marked, but contextually affect the lives of every human being. For example, factors such as racism, age discrimination, or special privileges allow some people to rise above the others. These orders create an effect of the “Glass Ceiling”, which does not allow people to achieve career highs, and feel important (Jackson, O’Callaghan, & Adserias, 2014). It causes injustices; thus, movements for rights and freedoms occur as people are looking for allies and associates.
For these reasons, the concept of the “Glass Ceiling” and the fight for social justice are important and relevant and should be explored, because these factors significantly influence the development of society (negatively in the first case, and positively in the second).
Glass Ceiling and Overcoming Social Barriers
I decided to address the “Glass Ceiling” issue in the real working conditions. I would like to find a good job and become a respected employee in the USA. However, I am concerned about the problem of stereotypes that can cause difficulties for me. Moreover, as a social worker, I would like be useful for other people who are dealing with gender limits or any forms of discrimination at the workplace (Cotter, Hermsen, Ovadia, & Vannemen, 2001).
The usual stereotypes that exist in society are based on the idea that man-chief is a natural phenomenon while a woman-leader is rather an exception than the rule. The implicit social contract that secures the gender roles of men and women suggests that the male is more focused on his career. His task is to ensure the material recourses, while the lot of a female is a family and household. For this reason, her work activity is secondary and unpromising.
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One of such approach consequences is the asymmetrical distribution of men and women in different structures, for example, industrial and professional, which was called segregation. Professionally, horizontal and vertical segregations are distinguished.
I examined that horizontal segregation is manifested in different occupational groups, and the vertical one is identified among the same professional category. For this reason, sectoral and occupational segregations can be considered as horizontal, and office segregation – as a vertical one that can also be called the “Glass Ceiling” (Jackson, O’Callaghan, & Adserias, 2014).
“Glass Ceiling” means a level in a career above which women have very little opportunity to rise. Thus, there are no formal restrictions for taking a higher position.
“Glass Ceiling” may be regarded as an invisible career barrier within intra-corporation or intra-organizational career pyramid, and within a professional advancement. It implies not only personal growth within the same company, but includes career advancement and professional status upgrading in the process of moving from one company to another.
For this reason, I conclude that the “Glass Ceiling” is not only an internal, but external phenomena as well. There are many difficulties in overcoming it because of professional ethics. Corporations inform each other about a suspicious and unacceptable employee. Thus, it could be uneasy to start working at the new place if reputation is spoiled (i.e. unfair).
The concept of the “Glass Walls” is a chanced type of the Glass Ceiling (“The Glass Wall,” n.d.). In this case, vertical segregation is complemented by horizontal segregation; thus, women have less access to professions and activities related to subsequent noticeable career growth. In the situation of combining the Glass Ceiling and Glass Walls, selection begins on the stage of choosing areas of activity or vocational education. Females can choose such spheres of activity, where significant advance is not possible. For example, women are more represented in the accounting field, but accountants rarely grow to top managers.
The “Sticky Floor” phenomenon is also closely related with the “Glass Ceiling”.
The concept of “Sticky Floor” means that women are staying much longer in the initial positions in the job hierarchy than men. Males move quickly to the next stages of the job ladder in the early stages of a career, while young women are detained for longer periods at the early stages of their career path. Faster career start subsequently provides men with the necessary formation of professional and managerial experience, managing support and thus allows them to overtake women in the occupation of senior ruling positions, i.e. it leads to a situation of Glass Ceiling.
Taking into consideration numerous obstacles that arise in career promotion for women, I mark three areas as forms of a vertical segregation.
Obstacles to the advancement of women on the career ladder. This type of vertical segregation is a classic manifestation of the Glass Ceiling or a combination of the Glass Ceiling and Sticky Floor tools.
Creation of different career paths for women and men. “Sticking” of women at the early stages of career leads to different career paths. Implicit social stereotypes about what constitutes a suitable employment for women and men can provide both genders with different tasks and jobs.
Discrimination against women in the employment sphere. The presence of gender discrimination in the labor market may be manifested in discrimination in hiring. In this case, there are two possibilities. A woman has fewer chances to find a desirable place of work and longer job search process than a man, or she will be taken on jobs with lower wages due to her inferior position. For this reason, women are proposed the worst start for progress; as a result, they will inevitably be faced with the issue of the Glass Ceiling.
Considering that the Glass Ceiling is an extremely destructive social phenomena, I cannot but emphasize core consequences of vertical segregation. Firstly, it lays the foundation for gender inequality in wages. Secondly, this type creates a situation where women have less access to economic resources and decision-making process. In this case, it gives limited opportunities in the political sphere and thus creates a vicious circle. In order to change the situation, institutional reforms are needed, as there is a limited access of women to political institutions. Thirdly, discrimination against women is detrimental to the economy due to the underutilization of women leadership abilities.
As a future social worker, I believe that the trainings for scrapping stereotypes and overcoming limits in the workplace are vitally necessary. In my point of view, a successful strategy should consist of the following tactical steps. First, it is necessary to establish healthy working relationship with the managers from the very beginning and make it obvious that I am ready to occupy high positions. Second, it is principally essential to ask questions that will help to expand knowledge about the subject of work and show my deep interest in the workflow. Third, it is significant to remain active and ready to do any task, even if it seems boring at the first time. Working team should see my potential and openness for the new contacts and fruitful cooperation (“Breaking the Glass Ceiling”, n.d.).
Actually, I am sure that it is possible to minimize the Glass Ceiling effect. Inspired by achievements of such Americans as Michelle Johnson (one of the commanders of the Air Force Academy), Sue Petrisin (a head of non-profit organization Kiwanis International, with more than 300,000 members in 89 countries), Janet L. Yellen (a chairperson of the Federal Reserve Board), and others (“Women Shattering Glass,” 2014), I am going to protect my social rights and help others to act in the same way, because every person has a right for self-development and career progress.
Social Justice and Allies Concept
I consider social justice as a generalized moral evaluation of public relations. It is one of the basic human social ideals, the specific content, which was changed throughout history and is different in numerous social systems. Implementation of the social justice principle means an equitable distribution of activities (labor), social benefits (rights, opportunities, power, rewards, and recognition), the level and quality of life, information and cultural values. Equitable distribution of labor is the constitutionally guaranteed right to work that implies no social assignation of heavy, harmful, unskilled and semi-skilled, non-creative types of jobs to socio-demographic, regional or national groups, equality of opportunities in socio-professional moving in education and vocational training.
It is unable to fight for social justice without allies. To become an ally in the struggle for social justice means to coordinate activity with other entities or individuals, such as volunteers. In my opinion, social allies embody a great potential, which is used in the process of achieving a common goal. The supporters are needed to create the common movements and form interest groups that protect various categories of rights. For example, in the middle of the twentieth century, there arose a Black Power movement in the United States. It successfully fought for equal rights and freedom for the African-American population. Another example is Stop Violence Against Woman organization that searches for methods of eradicating domestic violence and gender discrimination.
I consider that social allies unite their forces in the struggle for the right purposes. It provides the following benefits: psychological support, shared decision-making responsibility, collective holding of arrangements, simplified communication with the public, and overcoming barriers in finding financial support. Cooperation between different people allows a direct and clear dialogue with the authorities. If one voice does not solve anything, the collective opinion can seriously impact the policies of local government and draw even international attention to the specific social problems.
Social unities can also face difficulties in their work. Primary, it happens due to identical vision of the goal, but different ways of achieving it. For example, both the Democratic and Republican parties want to improve the level of education in the United States, but they prefer polar measures of approaching a desirable level. For this reason, the Democrats believe that the state should provide the major funding for education, considering that it is a natural right of every human being. In contrast, Republicans focus on parents’ payment for education of their children and single-gender classes.
Nevertheless, I am sure that the benefits of cooperation remain dominant arguments. To successfully overcome differences with the social partners, the following conditions should be met: following business ethics, tolerant attitude to the members of the unity, mutual aid, equal treatment of allies, and urgent solution of disputes (in order to prevent conflicts) (“Being a Good Ally”, n.d.). Even a skilled and experienced person may encounter any problem in practice. In case of the divergence of interests, it is necessary to approach carefully the problem and try to solve it through diplomatic tools with the use of soft instruments of influence. Sociologists should always remember about the features and purposes that unite people rather than differences and controversies that separate them.
Human society is a source of many problematic issues that must be solved. Antisocial manifestations of racism, gender discrimination, and unjustified privileges may adversely influence its development, creating the effect of the “Glass Ceiling” that discourages citizens on their way of self-development. Especially, it is related to women, who have fewer opportunities to progress at the workplace. However, the struggle for social justice and the search for allies can become the guarantee of a successful impact on internal systems and stereotypes breaking process.