Study Shows Cracks in the Glass Ceiling

June 5, 2001 ( - The results of a new survey show that while the sexes agree that the role of women in the business today has grown, women believe that serious barriers to advancement still exist.

The Women at Work survey, commissioned by Deloitte & Touche to highlight issues facing women, measures findings against the results of a similar survey conducted in 1995 to gauge how far women have come in the workplace.

According to the survey of over 380 male and female professionals in Washington State, men and women also agree that:

  • difficulties in balancing work and family are a barrier to women’s success in business;
  • men and women work equally hard in the workplace;
  • both sexes still reconize male-dominated corporate culture as a barrier to the success of women.

No Consensus

However, men and women disagree on:

  • the importance of giving women equal compensation for equal work,
  • the reluctance from management to give women the same responsibilities as their male counterparts, and
  • the lack of support and mentoring for women in today’s work environment.

The survey shows that, only 66% of women are content with the overall status of women in business, in comparison to more than 90% of men who said women’s current roles were satisfactory. This compares well with figures from the previous survey, which showed only 44% of women reporting satisfaction, versus 67% of men.

Results also showed that men and women clearly differ on their perception concerning the level of qualifications needed by women, specifically:

  • almost two-thirds of the female respondents believe that women need either more job experience or better qualifications to compete with men for the same job,
  • compared with 78% of males polled who believe women need only equal       qualifications.

Obstacle Course

Although the picture has changed between the two surveys, significant obstacles remain. A male dominated corporate culture was cited by 90% of women in both surveys as a barrier to success.

Three-quarters of male respondents agreed with this sentiment in the earlier survey, but this proportion decreased to 68% in the new study, where men ranked difficulties in balancing work and family as the biggest career obstacle facing women.

Women ranked the top five issues in 2001 as:

  • male-dominated corporate culture
  • difficulty in achieving work life balance
  • women excluded from informal networking
  • glass ceiling
  • few female mentors for women.

Whereas men ranked the obstacles in the following order:

  • difficulty in achieving work life balance
  • male-dominated corporate culture
  • failure to support family obligations
  • women excluded from informal networking
  • few female mentors for women.

Score Card

Although the sexes agree that businesses have made significant progress in grooming women for senior management roles, women see more room for improvement than men. The 2001 survey showed that almost 60% of male respondents were well satisfied with their employers’ efforts on this issue, compared to only 29% of women.