The Sound of Breaking Glass
There is clear evidence that women in general tend to be less forceful than men, when it comes to making their voices heard in the world of work. The effect is to disadvantage women, placing them in a ‘glass cage’ in their day-to-day interactions in the organisational context.
This is an absurdity in modern economies, where heavy manual labour is largely a thing of the past, where work revolves increasingly around the manipulation of knowledge, the provision of services and the nurturing of relationships, and where both educational and social opportunity have demonstrated that there is no sound reason to regard women and men as anything other than occupational peers.
The fact that men remain to a greater or lesser extent dominant in organisational hierarchies world-wide should not be taken as evidence that the current asymmetry is natural. The subordination of women is not a natural but a cultural state, and like any other culture, it can be changed.
So what can women do about the glass cage, its ceiling and its bars? This paper suggests four broad strategies and the cultural context in which each is likely to be most appropriate. The strategies are based on insights obtained from research and practice with our own VoicePrint diagnostic and developmental resources. The cultural contexts are described in terms of Hofstede’s well-known and highly researched framework of how cultures differ.
The emphasis is on practicality.