In many professions, women tend to earn less than men on average, but this doesn’t mean they are any less capable than their male counterparts – quite the opposite, in fact. We want to empower these women, and show them that breaking the glass ceiling – or glass cage, as it’s also sometimes known – is well within their reach.
What is the glass ceiling?
The term glass ceiling is often used to refer to barriers that stop women advancing as far, or as fast, as men in their profession.
There are many reasons that women can experience a glass ceiling (or glass cage) in the workplace. These include:
- Company culture geared towards men/male needs
- Lack of training or mentoring needed to advance
- Poor childcare provision/no working hours flexibility
- Senior management not acknowledging gender bias within the company
- No programme in place to support women returning to work after having a family
- Difficult to balance work travel with family commitments
- Lack of confidence among women to push themselves forward
There are many, many more reasons; these are just a few examples.
What is the impact of the glass ceiling for women?
Failing to reach the same professional heights as their male colleagues can have a profound long-term impact for women. Not advancing as far generally means they are paid less money, and this can influence other areas of their life, such as pension contributions and savings.
Ultimately, the more you earn, the greater resources you have to plan and save for your retirement. The gender gap that still exists in UK business is one of the reasons that women are often much worse off in later life than men.
How can women smash through the glass ceiling?
While the causes of a glass ceiling will vary from workplace to workplace, there are a number of steps women can take to boost their career progression. For example:
1. Have faith in yourself
Women tend to be much more self-doubting and risk averse than men, which often means their worst enemy is themselves. Have faith and conviction in your abilities, and don’t be afraid to point out your strengths to senior management when new opportunities become available.
2. Be ambitious
Whatever men can do, women can do too! Set yourself a career planning goal and go for it. Even if that goal is incredibly ambitious, map out the additional skills you will need to accrue and experience you will need to gather to make it happen, and set about checking those off your list. Being focused will help you achieve what you set out to achieve.
3. Don’t tolerate gender bias
It’s easier said than done to speak out when you think a company is weighting culture or protocol towards men, but if you don’t raise the issue then nothing will ever change.
Addressing gender bias is a sensitive subject, so proceed with caution if you want to stay and continue career planning within the company. Alternatively, if sexism is stopping you from reaching the heights you know you’re capable of, look for another job with a company that celebrates the capabilities of women.
4. Never take your success for granted
Women have fought for centuries to be valued equally with men, and the truth is that success could still be swept from under your feet, even when you’ve achieved it.
Always be appreciative of the milestones you reach, and make sure you are sensible with the money you earn as a result of progressing up the career ladder. Celebrate, yes, but then put a firm plan in place to ensure you are financially solvent for the future – and that includes saving for retirement.
If you’re unsure about how to save or need help to get the most from your employer’s pension, contact our financial planning team today.