Women entered the workforce in significant numbers during the end of the 19th century due to the rise of big business companies, industrialization and urbanization. During the next half-century or so, women would find themselves in gender specific roles in the workforce by occupying positions such as helpers, "sales girls", secretaries, laborers and clerks.
In 1964, Congress enacted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in which it was made unlawful to discriminate against any individual in the workplace based upon their race, color, religion, sex or national origin. This was an attempt to end the informal oppression of withholding decision-making positions from women in the workplace, also known as "the glass ceiling". Three issues that influence the role of the glass ceiling in the workplace are the Preference Theory, and the Psychological Perspective, and a study done By MN Governor Arnie Carlson in 1994.
The Perspective Theory is based on the premise that there are three work-lifestyle preferences for women: work-centered, adaptive, and home-centered. Adaptive women make up the majority by 60% and want to balance both a family and career life. This is compared to the majority of men who are work centered, which is defined as those who are most dedicated to their work. Women in this category, will often forego having children in order to concentrate on their career and social life, but only make up 20% of the categories. This Theory says that since most women are adaptive, they are less likely to ask for promotions, or work in higher-level jobs that require traveling and irregular working hours.
In the Psychological Perspective, The basic hypothesis was that "beliefs about interpersonal and situational variables in the organization were related to the perception that men and women were treated differently overall." This is essentially the cause of the glass ceiling. Interpersonal issues are the factors that pertain to the relationships among the people within an organization, which relates to boys sticking together essentially. The two main situational issues are the "existence of objective hiring standards and the number of women who have been in the pipeline". This study showed how interpersonal issues and situational issues play a major role in the glass ceiling. The information from this study needs to be used in a way that will discourage inequality.
Governor's Arne H. Carlson Glass Ceiling Task Force in September of 1994 produced findings that women and people of color are not being equally represented in leadership positions. The article states: "The reasons: women lack the "right" type of job experience, employers do not give flexibility so mothers have to choose between their children and their jobs, stereotypes affect the self-esteem and ambition of children of color and work and therefore many women and people of color do not come out of schools with the credentials and confidence needed to succeed" (Psychology of Women Quarterly, 33 (2009), 285-294). Stereotyping is a big influence on how people perceive themselves. This is also known as the self-fulfilling prophecy in psychology. How you treat someone will essentially determine who they become.
More and more women are getting college degrees and are pursuing careers. This combined with effective tools to discourage inequality in the workplace will continue to allow companies to hire the best person for the job, regardless of their gender. The end to inequality will start with peoples perception of equality. The sooner we get this mentality into the workplace, the sooner America will be a better Nation as a whole through having the best person for the job.
Daniela Duran, Heather Mancini, Justin Petrick, and Abby Wulfing