The Glass Ceiling Effect

The Glass Ceiling EffectIf a man and a woman, both one-year post college graduation with the same degree, work the same job, for the same number of hours, they should both be earning the same salary, correct? Actually, according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), which analyzed data from a Department of Education survey of 15,000 graduates, this is not the case. The men earned an average of 7 percent more than women did.

While CNN Money reported that this gender gap could be attributed to the fact that women are not likely to negotiate as much as men do, the research organization Catalyst reported that this is not the case. In their study, they found that 47 percent of women and 52 percent of men negotiated a higher salary during the hiring process, and that 14 percent of women and 15 percent of men asked for a promotion. With such a minute difference between males and females, the disparity between the pay gap among the two groups should not be so great. Yet women still earn only 82 cents for every dollar men make.
The cause of the gender gap in pay is controversial and up for debate; however, there are practical steps that women can take to empower themselves and their daughters to break through the proverbial “glass ceiling” that has historically existed in the job market.

For her: pick toys wisely
The results of a recent psychology journal study entitled “Sex Roles,” showed that 31percent of all girls’ toys emphasized the importance of appearance (e.g. make up and princess dresses), while 46 percent of boys’ toys fostered employable skills like invention, mobility, and problem-solving (i.e. LEGOs and colored footballs).
Instead of sticking to the stereotypical pink-packaged Barbie doll, buy a toy for your daughter that unlocks her potential. Foster her creativity and problem-solving skills with origami or girl LEGO sets. Broaden her horizons with scientific toys like Sea Monkeys chemistry kits, or butterfly gardens. Allow her to be technical with toys like Roominate, which provides an outlet for girls to learn about engineering concepts like circuitry while building their own customizable dollhouse. Encourage her to play on sports teams that not only teach the value of cooperation and teamwork, but also exercise both her body and competitive spirit.

For you: be confident
First coined by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, the “Imposter Syndrome” is a psychological phenomenon that successful women often feel when they are in a male-dominated area. Women feel as if they are there by chance and are just lucky to be where they are. The fear is that they will be eventually found out as frauds or imposters.

This is important to be aware of when first getting hired, negotiating salaries or speaking up in meetings. Just remember that you worked to get where you are and that you are precious and valuable. Do not be afraid to be bold and articulate your thoughts in a persuasive manner before co-workers, or to negotiate benefits and salaries.

For her: allow participation in physical and problem solving tasks
Rather than leaving all the heavy duty chores to the men, show your daughter that you, as a mother, can do them too. Gently discipline her to cooperate in formerly male-dominated tasks. For example, rather than asking your husband to open tightly sealed spaghetti bottles, run warm water over the lid and pop the top off with a glove. In addition to teaching your daughter how to cook, sew and clean, teach her to rake leaves, fix a flat tire, and mow lawns.

Showing your daughter that she can do these tasks is important because it lets her know that she is not weak and that men are not the only ones who are strong. It tells her that she can be a problem solver and fixer-upper too.

For you: save the apologies
According to an article in Psychological Science, women apologize more than men do because women view offenses more severely than men do. However, in the workplace, always apologizing for things you were not responsible for (e.g. Male: “My car stalled today.” Female: “I’m sorry”) can be damaging to your career. If people constantly hear you saying, “I’m sorry,” they may respect you less because you seem to always be at fault. Thus, it is helpful to try not to bring unwanted negative attention toward yourself.

Although the reason as to why men are paid more is largely unknown, as women, we cannot afford to just throw our hands up in surrender. It is our part to be catalysts for change. We must believe that we can make a difference in our world at large for not only ourselves, but for our children’s future.

Cresonia Hsieh is a freelance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].

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