The SheHawk: How diversity can break the glass ceiling


Genevieve Guenther

Cierra Noffke, Staff Writer

The glass ceiling often resurfaces in discussions of female empowerment. But what is it really?

The glass ceiling is a term used to describe the invisible boundaries in careers and personal lives that keep women and minorities from bursting through cultural restrictions to embrace their full worth and potential.

That is right: it does not apply only to women. This is important to consider as much of feminism is still about the equality of white women with their male counterparts.

Although this is an honorable goal, the dominance of the white man affects much more than just women. It affects members of the LGBT community and male or female minorities as well, and it is important to continue bringing them to the conversation.

The glass ceiling is exactly what it sounds like. It is invisible. It is a bowl trapping someone into their designated roles. It is not explicit; rather, it is the feeling that, if you were a white man, the path to your career or lifestyle would be much easier.

Although different aspects of sexism ensure the creation and maintenance of this glass ceiling, it is different from sexual harassment, for example, in that usually no one will directly tell you that you cannot succeed.

It is the absence of roads, doors and opportunities. It is intense pressure to perform and sustain one’s place in a given company or institution. It is the wage gap. It is lack of representation because the upper tiers are dominated primarily by white men.

The reason for the continued lack of representation in upper tiers of corporate management is the slow trickling of diverse and capable people into those positions. Those paths are tedious and pioneer like. Few have paved the way for others to follow.

Those who have pushed and finagled their way through the glass ceiling serve as testaments and sources of inspiration.

But if there is one thing I have learned from studying human rights activists, it is that there is no time like right now to begin pushing for equality.

The fight for equality is most pungent when everyone elbows their way into discussions, circles and opportunities. You do not have to fight only for yourself. You can fight for other people too.

Men fighting for women, white women fighting for Latinas, cisgenders fighting for non-cisgenders. That is how the glass ceiling disintegrates into dust the children of the future can dance upon.