Since co-authoring Breaking The Glass Ceiling: Can Women Reach The Top Of America’s Largest Corporations? in1987 (paperback in 1994), we’ve seen great progress in the advancement of women in business.
Last week Katrin Bennhold noted in International Herald Tribune that breaking the glass ceiling is now happening, somewhat ironically, with the examples and initiatives of men. She writes of an ambiguous landscape in gender equity:
In the early 21st century, women in the developed world find themselves in a peculiar place. With boys failing in school and working-class men losing their jobs to the economic crisis, pundits predict not just The Death of Macho (Foreign Policy, September 2009) but The End of Men (The Atlantic, July/August 2010).
Reality is more nuanced. Women earn more doctorates, but less money. They are overtaking men in the work force, but still do most housework. They make the consumer decisions but run only 3 percent of Fortune 500 companies.
“In theory, we now have equal rights,” sighed one senior female executive at a French multinational, who tellingly requested anonymity for fear of riling the men at her company. “In practice, we still have babies.
In the Western world, motherhood remains the barrier to gender equality…MORE”
Bennhold suggest that the more women-focused adjustments of the first wave of workplace gender equity, such as maternity leave, are vital but also reinforce the role of women as primary caregivers…caregivers who don’t get leadership positions, despite their qualifications.
Some organizations are putting the mantle of nurturer on dads by stressing the importance of paternity leave and by putting more men in charge of gender diversity as a matter of building greater awareness of sexism among the sex that still makes the most money and gets the most promotions. While we’ve seen that blatant sexism is less prevalent than it once was, male leadership still hasn’t completely grasped the fact that high-performing women are often high-performing moms who can’t invest the same levels of extra-curricular time on their careers.
In coaching and learning interventions dealing with diversity, it’s time to marshal men to balance the workplace leadership as they get back in touch with their family responsibilities.
Giving the next generation strong father figures would not only help explode the glass ceiling, it might also be the best hope for those failing boys in school who lack male role models. MORE