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Book identifies six gender biases that women still face

  • Scott LaMar

Aired; April 1st, 2024.


The glass ceiling – a metaphor for a barrier that kept women and other marginalized people from advancing – usually in their careers. The term is and was used often when a woman had reached a position or place in society for the first time. Breaking through the glass ceiling was seen as how far we’ve come as a society. But that glass ceiling isn’t the final destination or even the ultimate barrier for many women.

What about the “glass walls?”

Wilson College’s Chief Information Officer Amy Diehl has identified obstacles that women in the workplace still face in a book she co-wrote called Glass Walls: Shattering the Six Gender Bias Barriers Still Holding Women Back at Work.

Through their research, comparing women’s experiences and anecdotes, Diehl and her co-author Dr. Leanne Dzubinski found the top six barriers woman are up against and that contribute to bias are male privilege, disproportionate constraints, insufficient support, devaluation, hostility and acquiescence.

Dr. Diehl will appear with Dickinson College’s Chief Information Officer, Jill Forrester, Monday, April 8 at 7 p.m. at Dickinson’s Anita Tuvin Schlecter Auditorium to discuss gender bias. Both Dr. Diehl and  Forrester were with us on The Spark Monday.

Diehl went into depth about the six walls,”Male privilege is men’s inherent advantage caused by workplace cultures in which men are the leaders. They control the resources, they set the standards, and they assign women to a second class status. So women are allowed into the organization in ways that support the males, the men’s privilege. The second one is disproportionate constraints. So again, women are allowed into the workplace, but they are constrained to act in ways that are supportive of the men and held to unequal standards when compared to the men…The third one is insufficient support, where women lack access to social structures and networks that would help them to advance. And it actually includes unsupportive leadership, in which leaders ignore women’s needs or concerns. The fourth one is devaluation. It attempts to make women seem unimportant and detract from their authority. One example is, something that we, we didn’t coin is term, but it’s a term that’s out there. It’s called office housework. It’s when women are assigned all the tasks that aren’t, what are typically thought of as promotable tasks. So it’s like cleaning the office refrigerator, taking notes in a meeting, even just helping a colleague with a project. It’s, you know, it’s all those things that that it’s like, well, you’re the woman, you’re expected to do it. And if you to say no to that, you’re going to get backlash…Fifth one out of the six is hostility, hostility and active, resistance to women’s presence in the workplace through overt discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. The goal of hostilities to keep women in their supposed place. And then the last, as a result of all the other barriers, is acquiescence. Where women internalize the obstacles, accept them as valid, and adapt to the limitations. One example is that being silent on issues, self-silencing, keeping quiet on workplace sexism, or even their own experience of experiences of harassment. And that’s a self protection mechanism.”

Forrester suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic that brought so many abrupt changes to Americans’ lives were even more burdensome for working women who most often had to take care of children who were out of school and maintain households,”It was women who put their careers on hold and in many cases, actually stepped out of the workforce altogether. It wasn’t that, well, I, I need to work part time or I’ll work in after hours. They actually had to step out of the workforce. And when that happens to a woman who’s on a professional trajectory towards leadership, it’s not just if they step out of the workforce for a year that they’ve been set back a year. It can it really is a setback of could be 5 to 10 years on their professional trajectory to once again get the leadership opportunities that perhaps they were aspiring to. So very definitely a very real impact, to women, during the pandemic.”

Diehl’s book offers dozens of suggestions to reduce or stop gender bias.


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