This week’s lesson is near and dear to me. As a minority and a woman who has been working in the world of corporate America for 15 years, I have seen how that glass ceiling has affected many talented women from moving ahead. Coming from a banking industry, I have seen how rigid the upper management level is and how almost male chauvinistic the reality of the business could be. From the CEO to the CIO and all other notable positions held within the company, it was held by a Caucasian male. This was all through the “old world bank” culture of business, even years prior to me being old enough to hold a job the employees if men were required to wear a suit everyday and the women to wear a skirt suit. So when looking at cultures, it is not only ones individual identity that defines the leaders but also the culture of the business.
As taught in the lesson, basically, these studies found that women should not act like men. If women leaders act like men, they are perceived negatively because they are not acting in ways consistent with their gender role. However, if women act too much like women they are not seen as effective leaders. (PSU WC, Lesson 13) In the corporate world, it is never talked about and you are ethically taught that this is not the way the business works but it is definitely still prevalent even if it is unspoken. I am not saying that there aren’t powerful woman in the business world but reality is that it is much harder for one to achieve that goal.
There are many leaders or woman, who are seen as leaders but not necessarily labeled as one, who have done it in ways that started historical movements. For these women who had the courage to step outside of what was expected out of them to show other woman, that their voice could be heard and felt also. From woman like Rosa Parks, who fought for that seat on the bus, to Virginia Woolf, whose literature has helped lead a feminist movement; both of them broke through that glass ceiling in extreme times in which they were expected to be nothing and do nothing for themselves let alone for so many other woman. Another great example of a woman ahead of her time was Jane Adams; she was the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. In the late 19th century, she pioneered for settlement houses that offered night classes for adults, a kindergarten, a coffeehouse, a gym and social groups. During this time, no woman would have been expected to be able to do this and build up what we consider our social worker system now.
As girls grow up now, they are taught to be more and want more. They have those women like Rosa and Jane that has paved the way and chipped at that glass ceiling for them. But Rosa, Jane and Virginia didn’t have that encouragement as they were taught to be quiet and not speak for themselves. So maybe it is the culture they were raised in that made them see there should be more opportunities. Regardless of the time period we are looking at there will always be more obstacles faced by a woman, a minority and even more by a minority woman.
Penn State World Campus (2013). PSYCH 485 Lesson 13: Leadership and Diversity. Retrieved on April 14, 2013, from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/sp13/psych485/003/content