Glass Ceiling and Womens Opportunities in Canada

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Glass Ceiling and Womens Opportunities in Canada Essay Sample


The implicit social attitudes towards the gender roles of men and women suggest that a male should be more focused on his career. Meanwhile the female role should primarily include the care about a family and household. The phenomenon based on the asymmetrical distribution of men and women in different employment structures and jobs as well as the career limitations of females is known as a glass ceiling effect. The paper is aimed to analyze whether this concept currently limits the womens equal opportunity in management and executive positions in Canada. Moreover, the research as well as discusses whether the new Canadian females experience greater barriers to employment advancement compared to the Canadian-born ones. The key point lies in the direct involvement of higher authorities into the conduction of the efficient recruitment and HR management policy aimed to accelerate the representation of women in leadership positions.

Keywords: glass ceiling effect, gender segregation and discrimination

Glass Ceiling and Womens Opportunities in Canada

The stereotypes have always been a part of the social life. Although the modern society strives to grow tolerance and provide equal opportunities to everyone regardless race, gender, ethnic origin, etc., there still can be met some stereotypic attitudes towards the specific issues. In fact, the common stereotype that exists in a community refers to the spread of gender roles within the society. For example, a male boss can be viewed as a natural and traditional phenomenon. Meanwhile a female manager can be considered as rather an exception to the common rule. The implicit social attitudes towards the gender roles of men and women suggest that the male should be more focused on his career. At the same time, the role of females should primarily include the care about the family and household (Wirth, 2001). The presence of such stereotypes is closely related to the concept of gender segregation in employment based on the asymmetrical distribution of men and women in different employment structures and jobs. In fact, the division has two components, i.e. vertical and horizontal. The horizontal segregation describes the different distribution of men and women by professional groups. Meanwhile the vertical one characterizes inequality of the separation of genders within the career hierarchy. In other words, the vertical discrimination often means the limited access of women to the management positions and the most prestigious occupations involving responsibility and decision-making. Taking into account the information mentioned above, the following paper is aimed to analyze whether the phenomenon of Glass Ceiling currently limits the female equal opportunity in management and executive positions in Canada. The research as well as discusses whether the new Canadian women experience greater barriers to employment advancement compared to the Canadian-born ones.

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The Phenomenon of Glass Ceiling

The vertical segregation is also called as glass ceiling. Such phenomenon refers to the certain level in the career hierarchy, above which women have a little opportunity to rise. Although there are no formal restrictions for employment positions above the glass ceiling, the practical experience shows the following fact. Rather often females cannot go beyond this obstacle. In fact, the problem of the glass ceiling is typical for many countries, including the developed ones. According to the survey conducted by Aenture among 1200 senior managers in eight states of North America, Europe and Asia, the presence of the glass ceiling has been proved by 70% of female respondents and 57% of male respondents (The anatomy of the glass ceiling, 2006). The results of the study have showed that, in the US, the UK, Germany, Australia, and Sweden, the significant barriers to female career referred to the social norms. Meanwhile in Canada, the Philippines, and Austria, the primary barriers referred to the corporate rules (The anatomy of the glass ceiling, 2006). In addition, the findings of the research proved that the glass ceiling can be considered as an invisible career obstacle in the framework of intra career and professional pyramid. It involves not only the limitations of the career growth within the same company, but also includes the barriers to the job advancement and enhancement of the professional status during the transition from one organization to another.

In fact, the phenomenon of the glass ceiling can be complemented by the concept of the so called glass walls. In this case, the vertical segregation is complemented by the horizontal division. Therefore, the women have less access to professions and activities, which results in the significant career development compared to the male career. In the situation of the glass ceiling and glass walls, the selection starts with the choice of the field of activity or even with the selection of vocational education. The females can choose from such areas which will no longer require a significant advance. For example, the accounting work is represented more by women. However, the accountants rarely grow to the top management. In large organizations, women achieve high results. They can hold executive positions, but most often it occurs in the areas such as human resource management, administration and accounting, i.e. the off-center and non-strategic operations for the organization.

Thus, taking into account various obstacles that arise in the career advancement of women, there can be defined three directions of the vertical segregation formation (Giele & Stebbins, 2003):

1. The obstacles to the promotion of female careers.

2. The creation of different career paths for women and men. It means that the implicit social stereotypes related to the appropriate work for both sexes may lead to various job opportunities for them.

3. The discrimination against women in employment. It means that the females compared to males are less likely to be employed as well as have the duration of job search longer. Otherwise, women will be taken on work with lower wages and at worst positions. The second option implies that they have the worst start of the career. As a result, they will inevitably face with the problem of the glass ceiling.

The comparison of the proportion of female managers among all women employees and male leaders of all employed men can be considered as a measure of the degree of vertical segregation. The difference in percentage points of corresponding shares will indicate the level of division similar to the rate of the index or Duncan index. It is D =? | Fi/ F -Mi/ M | / 2, where Fi is the number of women in the specific profession. F is the amount of employed women. Mi is the number of men employed in the profession, and M is the one of working males. In the case, the two groups (i = 2) will be equal to | Fi / F – Mi / M |, i.e. the difference in fractions of leaders among men and women, measured in percentage (Snyder & Green, 2008). In Canada, the share of male managers among the employed men is 11.1%; the share of female managers among the employed women is 6.5% (Woodhams, 2015). The difference in the proportion of managers among the men and females is 4.6%. Meanwhile the rate of women among total number of managers is 33.6% (Woodhams, 2015).

To assess the influence of various factors onto the female opportunities in the management and executive positions, there can be used a regression analysis. Based on that, it can be stated that the successful career advancement of women and men is positively influenced by age and experience within the specific field. However, its marginal contribution decreases over time. It should be mentioned that the marital status and presence of children in the under age of 6 years old and up to 17 years do not have the significant effect onto the opportunities of females to have the managerial or executive position. It suggests that a family burden cannot be considered as a barrier for women to move up in the career. In addition, one of the most interesting findings states that the probability of having the status of a manager among females is positively influenced by the managerial position of their husbands. It provides women more opportunities for the professional growth, contributing to the successful solution of the problem of the glass ceiling at the expense of resources of the spouse. It is helping to overcome the resistance of professional and social networks, creating resources for the further career growth.

The significant obstacle to the professional development of women lies in the double standards in the assessment of labor. The females who are trying to climb to the top of the corporate hierarchy have to be better than men at all times to prove that they are worth to occupy the managerial and executive positions. They should be more effective and allow fewer errors. However, it should be mentioned that internal barriers such as the lack of confidence and fear of decision-making positions can also prevent women to achieve the career goals. However, despite the mentioned above factors, the females persistently and systematically prove that in many areas they can work no less effectively than men. It is being worth of occupation of managerial and executive positions, requiring a responsibility and high level of professional expertise.

Women in Canada

Canada is one of the few countries which have the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, i.e. the special department responsible for the advancement of women. The country has a significant focus on the prevention and eradication of violence and discrimination of females. In fact, there is a wide network of centers providing assistance to victims of violence, refugee women, females in crisis situations and risk groups. It is well known for its federal and regional laws as well as local-level social programs aimed at combating this scourge. In Canada, women have the same rights and opportunities as men. Equality between both sexes is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Bollinger & O’Neill, 2008).

Nowadays, females have become the leaders in all aspects of the Canadian society. They work in all fields and choose a variety of activities. Today there are very few professions in which only men or only women work. The Canadian community completely supports the equality of rights between both sexes within the society (Sandberg, 2011). There are special groups and programs that support the promotion of equal opportunities for men and women. The Women of Canada, as the federal government agency, promotes female rights and monitors their performance throughout the country.

The mentioned information above proves that the Canadian women have made a significant progress in the fight for equality. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, adopted in 1982, enshrined the gender equality as the constitutional rights of the citizens. This principle is put into practice as no federal bill can be adopted without a conclusion of the Ministry of Justice that it contains no discrimination against women.

In addition, Canada actively protects the rights of females in the international arena either. The country ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In addition, it has taken an initiative of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and adopted the Platform for Action provide by the Fourth World Women’s Conference in 1995 as well as other fundamental documents on the female rights. In addition, it should be mentioned that Canada assures the equal rights to all women, i.e. the new Canadians have the same opportunities to the employment advancement as Canadian-born females (Hesse-Biber & Carter, 2005).

The mentioned facts above prove that most of Canadian women are committed to the professional development and promotion. Meanwhile, even despite the attempts of legal authorities they still face some discrimination participating in the labor process. In fact, the proportion of women among the unemployed tends to be higher than the proportion of the unemployed men. This difference is particularly impressive when taking into account the so-called hidden unemployed rate. It usually includes those ones who work on a part-time basis. Among them, females make up the vast majority. For some of them, this form of work allows to assure the successful combination of family obligations with certain jobs and participation in labor relations. However, for the majority of the Canadian women the part-time job is not a conscious choice, but a necessary step. It means that in addition to the constant and generally higher wages they lose an opportunity to receive a number of vital benefits and allowances (primarily in the field of health care and pensions) intended only for fully employed people. Therefore, among the total labor force in Canada, women tend to be employed in less well-paid and prestigious areas than men.

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Apparently, some contribution to the less focus on career achievements and promotion of alternative options for self-realization of females is caused by traditional attitudes to their role. However, despite the fact that the influence of marital status onto the womens opportunities at the managerial and executive positions have been identified, at the same time it must be considered the inverse effect of employment status onto the family one. While analyzing the factors affecting the marriage in modern Canada, the management position does not reduce the likelihood for females to marry. However, the appointment to senior position reduces the chances of family creation in a short term perspective. Thus, some women change their values associated with the formation of the career, choosing the family as a key value. Such females usually try not to seek the leadership positions. In this regard, the overcoming of the glass ceiling does not mean an automatic and complete alignment in job positions among both sexes. On the contrary, some women strive to the realization as a caring wife and mother, but not as a professional in the specific field. However, this individual choice cannot serve as the justification for the gender asymmetry and preservation of gender conservatism in the issues of the career advancement in business or in the public service.


The research of the glass ceiling issue proves that employers who make complex decisions on the construction of gender diversity are supposed to be more successful in the market. The key point lies in the direct involvement of higher authorities into the conduction of the efficient recruitment and HR management policy aimed to accelerate the representation of females in leadership positions. However, the problem is that only 56% of executives are willing to take on such responsibility. Nevertheless, Canada belongs to the countries, which assure the most efficient gender equity policies worldwide.

Based on the mentioned above information, the gender segregation, as well as many other characteristics of the labor market, is viewed as a complex and multidimensional phenomenon. On the one hand, it can be considered as one of the results of the development of modern society. Meanwhile, on the other hand, it is a source of various problems. Therefore, this phenomenon is now attracting the attention of scientists, politicians, and individuals who are trying to understand the complex cause-and-effect relationships. These ones mediate the emergence and maintenance of gender segregation and discrimination, as well as its impact on the functioning of labor markets. The Canadian authorities as well as employees strive to assure the similar chances to both new and Canadian-born women in the process of employment. Nowadays, the concept of the glass ceiling cannot be considered as a key issue of the Canadian society. However, it still requires a precise monitoring to assure the efficiency of the gender equity program within the country. The modern companies make significant efforts in this direction, creating the special groups responsible for an equal pay, as well as pursuing the policy of flexible working. An interesting solution would be the creation of the attractive long-term programs aimed at the retention of females in the workplace. These ones may include monitoring of employees results, education, health information campaigns, and other benefits.

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