This book was started in our hearts long before we put pens to paper. It was born from the personal journeys, shared experiences, and purposeful inquiries of women you work with, know, share your life with, or like you!
While writing this book, we thought we’d be remised if we did not take the time to revisit the social evolution over the years.
Here is an excerpt from that section (pp. 7-9):
“The glass ceiling was first referenced in 1979 at the National Press Club at a conference of the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press by Katherine Lawrence of Hewlett Packard. It is a political term that describes the unseen and unbreachable barriers that keep individuals from climbing the corporate ladder irrespective of their qualifications and capabilities. (22) It has since been adopted to reference the barriers women experience professionally.
The Federal Glass Ceiling Commission was established in 1991 to study the barriers and issues contributing to lost human capital as a result of discrimination against minorities
and women. The commission defined the term as:
“A concept that betrays American’s most cherished principles. It is the seen, yet intangible barrier that keeps women from rising to the upper ranks in their profession
regardless of their credentials, qualifications and achievements.”
(Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, 1995, p. 8) (29)
The term paints a very vivid picture of women on the bottom floor of a building looking up through a glass ceiling at the men on the next floor. The ceiling for the women is the
floor for the men. To further exacerbate the issue, the women are able to see through the glass what is possible but are unable to attain it regardless of their education, experience, or abilities. In essence, you can see it, but you cannot reach it.
In 2015 and 2016, Carly Fiorina was a Republican candidate for president of the United States. In 1999 she was the first woman to be named CEO of a Fortune 500 company, when she was quoted saying, “[Women face] no limits whatsoever. There is not a glass ceiling.” (Meyer, 1999, p. 56) (48)
This is quite a bold statement!
Over twenty years after the term was initially introduced, Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives, provided this reframe of the term in her inaugural speech to the House on January 4th, 2007:
“It’s an historic moment for the Congress; it’s an historic moment for the women of America. It is a moment for which we have waited over two hundred years. Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights. But women weren’t just waiting, women were working, never losing faith we worked to redeem the promise of America, that all men and women are created equal. For our daughters and our granddaughters, today we have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters, the sky is the limit. Anything is possible for them.”
(Pelosi, 2007) (53)
Speaker Pelosi reframed the traditional term from glass ceiling to marble ceiling. Glass implies that you can actually see the opportunities that are available to men yet unattainable for women. Marble implies the opposite, that opportunities available to men are not even visible to women. In addition, it communicates the necessity for a different level of intensity and force to break through the barriers to attain higher levels of success.
So which is it—glass, marble, concrete, or something else?
Perhaps Carly Fiorina is correct; there is no longer a barrier? Or is her perspective skewed?
If you would like to read more, Shattering the Glass Ceiling; How to Break Through Without Breaking Down is available on Amazon and other venues where books are sold.
Want to connect with Dr. Gia? Email her at Info@DrGia.Com