Don’t Just Break The Glass Ceiling – Smash It!: 5 Tips for Women

Despite breakthroughs in gender and pay equality, many women still face barriers when trying to advance their careers in business, government or academics. A study by Statistics Canada looked at more than 10,000 public, private and government corporations and found that in 2016 and 2017, most of their Boards of Directors were composed entirely of men.

The so-called “glass ceiling” is an invisible and often not highly discussed barrier within organizations that dictates who gets ahead – and who doesn’t.

While the glass ceiling is often associated with women, barriers to advancement can also apply to minorities and others who may be discriminated against because of age or other factors including family background.

In most cases, glass ceilings exist to preserve the status quo. They are the result of unconscious bias backed by a belief on what the “right” candidate should look like. Bias can also be more “out in the open” and involve actions such as bullying or other forms of power plays.

Needless to say, those faced with a glass ceiling can be left feeling frustrated, isolated or depressed.

While being overlooked for a job or promotion may be frustrating, here are 5 ways women can take action and smash through the glass ceiling:

1. Do Your Research

Before accepting a job, do your research to find out if the organization is ruled by a glass ceiling.

Organizations with a tendency towards systemic bias or discrimination will show signs of a glass ceiling. Look at the top rungs of management. Is there diversity at the top? Is sexist language used and accepted within the organization? Is there long term resistance to change? What is the vibe of the place? Is there open communication with senior leaders? Talk to people who work or have worked there before making a final decision.

2. Raise Your Hand

Follow the men’s playbook and don’t be afraid to speak out in meetings. You have something important to say so don’t be afraid to flaunt your accomplishments. Most successful women are risk takers. They aren’t afraid to make mistakes and don’t wait until everything is perfect to take action. Be your own champion because if you don’t toot your own horn who will?

3. Dream Big

Have faith in yourself and your goals. Don’t be afraid to come across as ambitious. You deserve to be happy and successful! Aim for senior leadership roles and do your research to find out the best way to get there. Focus on growth and development and always be learning.

4. Work Your Network

Whether employed or not, we all know that making connections is an essential part of career (and life) advancement. Take the time to build relationships both inside and outside of your organization. Identify the champions within your organization and seek a mentor who would not be threatened by your will to succeed. Attend networking events both inside and outside of your industry to get a new perspective on things.

5. There’s Power In Numbers

It’s often said that, in business, women are the least likely to help other women. In fact, women can sometimes be their own worst enemies. So don’t be afraid to reach out and lend a helping hand. As with most things in life, there’s power in numbers. Offer to mentor junior staff and ask senior executives for guidance on how to get ahead. The laws of the universe dictate that there’s enough success out there for everyone. And remember – success should never gained at the expense of men. There are many men out there who recognize talent and are more than willing to help women get ahead!

If all your efforts aren’t working out and you feel as if you’ve gone as far as you can, then maybe it’s time to move on to a place where the glass ceiling might be a little easier to shatter or not exist at all. Good luck!