What is ceiling effect? Why women are the major victims in ceiling effect?

ceiling effect

Women in India occupy a position between godliness and isolation. Though everyone advocates for giving equal rights but practicality is somewhat else for women. The dogmatic beliefs hamper the growth of women in the world. It’s been seventy years since India has achieved independence but still, the need is to reform the mind-set of the people. Though the participation of women at every step in the development of the country is impeccable and cannot be ignored. The efforts that women have to put to achieve anything are comparatively more than men. This is because women, first of all, have to fight the forces of society that are working against their actions so as to hamper their growth.

Historical backdrop

Glass ceiling effect a term that gained popularity in the 1980’s is the aversion to the efforts of the women to reach the pinnacle of the corporations, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations or governmental organizations. Though the women due to their fervor and struggle were able to enter the workforce in the corporations their growth was restricted to a certain level. Though barriers to entry of women have been removed this effect continues to be an imperceptible barrier. This effect was later termed by the Wall Street Journal in 1986. This effect even prevails when the majority of the workforce is women. Rather than appointing a woman with experience at a senior position a male counterpart even with much lesser experience is preferred at that position. The two theories prevalent to this concept are the social role theory where the labor has been segregated on the gender roles that have been assigned to them by society. The very second theory that explains the process is the Social exclusion theory where the resources are distributed to prevent the equal distribution of resources and reduce the participation of a particular class in the decision making. This is followed to hinder the women to get to higher positions.

Moreover even it has been observed that women even after getting good higher-level education still are employed in jobs with low pay scales.

The historical educational background has even been male-dominated, so the rules that were framed at that very time were to suit the males. The majority of the rules framed continue to be enforceable at the present time without taking into consideration the entry of women into the workforce. However, some changes have been introduced by the legislation empowering women including the Maternity Benefit Act which was recently amended in 2017 further aiding to the empowerment of women. Thus the earlier rules which supported the placement of men at the higher positions had any important role to glass ceil the women.

Studies show that people at higher positions have to be risk-oriented, witty and good managers and the majority of these skills are associated with male counterparts than females. Thus the top-level positions are sought to be filled with males rather than placing opposite gender on those positions. Women are considered to lack the vigor to take risky decisions that may prove beneficial for the management in the longer run. Thus it turns out to be another factor reducing the occupancy of women.

It can be seen from the history of many countries even in the world’s largest democracy that is India that only out of 14 PM’s of the country only one was female. She turned out to be one of the ablest administrators. But even still the old perception takes a step forward that women are not capable administrators but are best suited for the domestic work. Even the professions have been distributed between men and women. Women are considered to be good teachers but the profession of law is considered to be more suitable for men because of the threats that are associated with the practice. Thus women fail to occupy the top positions in those professions as the majority is constituted by males. Another leading example is the USA which is considered as one of the most successful democracy but there has not been a single instance of a female president. In the last elections also, the democratic candidate Hillary Clinton lost, because still, people from old school don’t consider women to be able administrators but only capable homemakers.

Present Conditions

Generally, it is very difficult for women to break the glass ceiling and dismantle it. The higher positions are followed by a load of responsibilities that women are often considered incapable of bearing.

Moreover, the burden becomes double when the positions of strategic importance are given to women. Because they already are to perform the household chores that have been assigned to them by society by the virtue of being women. 

Secondly, the legislature to ensure benefits to women during their pregnancy has drawn upon stringent laws. The Maternity amendment act has increased the maternity leave to 26 weeks and further prenatal benefits also. The amendment also provided benefits to women who have adopted a child though younger than three months. Though the benefits definitely have been empowering for a long time. But during maternity leave, non-occupancy of such posts cannot be afforded by the corporations or any non-governmental organizations neither it is feasible to assign the work to someone else in the organization. The shuffle in the organization causes disaffection among the employees. The employees tend to lose commitment towards the assigned work after such reshuffling in the organization. Thus to avoid such a major change in the hierarchical structure of the institution, the senior roles where such a change is not susceptible, women are not assigned such important positions of work.


Moreover, the tendency to move on is not much found in women and they are motivated not to go for new opportunities. Their past experiences trickle them down. It is believed that bad experiences leave a tinge in their minds thus to take up new opportunities gets difficult for women. Though even the chances of defeat may be very minute. Men, however, are more enterprising and they believe in grasping every opportunity that comes their way and makes further advancements. There is moreover a lack of self-determination and the level of confidence is found to be lower in a woman.

Edited by Ojaswi Gupta

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

Harsh Gupta
I am Harsh vasu Gupta pursuing my BA.LLB from University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh. I am associated with his mooting society and Legal Aid society of his college. My areas of interest are constitution, criminal and international law. I love to write blogs and articles. My hobbies are playing cricket and listening songs.