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International Research Journal of Human Resources and Social Sciences Impact Factor- 3.866

Vol. 3, Issue 5, May 2016 ISSN(O): (2349-4085) ISSN(P): (2394-4218)

© Associated Asia Research Foundation (AARF)

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Manpreet Ola,

Assistant Professor, Amity University Gurgaon (Haryana).


Women workers in organizations are increasing at a rapid rate, despite of all this women still

experience large disparities in salary, promotion and prestige. These inseparable barriers, that

often keeps women down are referred to as the glass ceiling. All these issues at work place which

is created by glass ceiling have an impact on the mental health of women and we as people

should collectively make efforts to combat this practice for betterment of our nation, our women

and our society; and this is the focus of this paper.

Key words: Glass Ceiling, Women and Mental Health


We hear in the media regarding women been given equal status, equal rights and priorities

everywhere. We celebrate women’s day with such pomp and glory, despite of all this women

face discrimination in the work culture. Here in this 21st century, women are still fighting for

their rights in every aspect of life and the women employees too are not the exception.

According to various published articles and research reports on discrimination and inequality in

work force with women. It has been observed that women think that gender barrier is playing a

determinant role in pulling down their achievements at the workplace. Society is consciously

continuing the tradition that a women place belongs at home (Jacob, 1992). But due to


the women have started believing that their duties are not only restricted to household works and

looking after their children. But there are still a lot of women who under the pressures of the

society are compelled to think and limit their lives to their families, household and children and

those of those who take the bold step of going out in this competitive world to prove their worth

have to face exploitation, discrimination and harassment. All these discrepancies in the

treatment given to men and the treatment given to women led to researches on a concept termed

as “glass ceiling”.

The glass ceiling is a concept that most frequently refers to barriers faced by women who

attempt, or aspire, to attain senior positions as well as higher salary levels in corporations,

government, education and nonprofit organizations. Worldwide, individual women have been

breaking through the glass ceiling. The term “glass ceiling” was coined in a 1986 in the Wall

Street Journal report on corporate women by Hymowitz and Schellhardt (1986).

It is one of the most convincing terms for analyzing inequalities between men and women in the

workplace. It has been used widely in the popular articles, media as well as in official

government reports and academic publications (Garland 1991). The image suggests that although

it may now be the case that women are able to get through the front door of managerial

hierarchies, at some point they hit an invisible barrier that blocks any further upward movement.

Evidence of the glass ceiling has been described as invisible, covert and overt. At the root of the

glass ceiling are gender-based barriers, commonly cited in the literature and noted in anecdotes.

These barriers run the scope from gender stereotypes to preferred leadership styles to tokenism,

sexism in the high managerial ranks.


It has been seen in various interviews by male professionals that workplace is gender neutral in

management, but vast researches suggest the glass ceiling impact in the work force prevalent


Research studies have shown that lack of progress caused by glass ceiling is a major source of

work stress and has been linked to negative health consequences and less satisfaction, this glass


Study conducted by Davidson & Cooper (1984) suggested that women are more likely to work in

lower level management compared to men.

Research studies have also suggested that even if women are promoted equal to men in the same

organization for the same post, they are less likely to get equal pay (Cox & Harquail, 1991).

Research study by Nelson & quick (1985) comprised a study by reviewing 99 different studies

on the issues of research on women and research on stress in the work place; they concluded that

women suffer more stress due to workplace which is other than the common stressors

experienced by both the genders. These stressors are caused by discrimination, stereotyping and

due to interference of work life in the family life.

It has also been studied women are mostly underrepresented in those areas of the organizations

where decisions regarding distribution of power is made, taking authority from them to

participate in crucial decisions of the organization, which puts them under lot of stress due to

lack of opportunities in these important areas (Fielden & Cooper, 2002).

In various settings women are considered less influential and hence are not well integrated into

men’s networks which is inclusive of the most senior networks, and surveys have shown that

individuals who are in these superior strong networks are most likely to be promoted, hence

putting women at a disadvantage, which increases burden on them from families, indicating they

aren’t capable of achieving anything nice which puts strain on them (Brass, 1985).

Research studies by Stansfeld, Head and Marmot, (1998) have shown that due to these disparities

created by glass ceiling in the work force is predictive of depression in women; the disparities

created in decision making authority are closely related to employment grade and higher

positions. The highest level of well being and reduced depression is found in women who have

been given highest grades in employment.


 Acknowledge successful senior-level women as role models.

 Support the development and utilization of women’s networks inside and outside the


 Examine the organization’s informal culture: look at subtle behaviors, traditions and

norms that may work against women.

 Through surveys and focus groups, discover men’s and women’s perceptions about the

organization’s culture, their career expectations and what drives their intentions to stay or


 Identify the organization’s best practices that support women’s advancement.

 Performance appraisals and promotion decisions should be based on performance at


 Programmes could be introduced to support the practical implementation of equal

opportunities and policies aiming to reduce discrimination.

 Mentoring programmes either formal or informal could be a great source of support for

working women and ultimately help break this glass ceiling.


Both domestically and globally, women represent a relatively unused source of talent for

leadership in the workplace. While progress has been made across the globe, barriers to women’s

advancement continue to exist, including cultural norms, stereotypes, and employer policies and

practices. This scenario should be changed and only the modernized thinking of the management

of organizations can change it with the help of positive societal changes. Every organization

should focus on prioritizing talents over anything else for the growths of themselves, their

organizations, their employees, which will in turn, help the society to grow.

Human resource professionals have a significant part to play in uplifting women through

organizational culture, workplace policies and practices, change management and workforce

education to develop women leaders at home and abroad. It is not only the work of HR

professionals to work towards upliftment of women in the work force; the society, government

and private organizations should all make collective efforts to reduce the practice of gender



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