The Glass Ceiling in IT

The Glass Ceiling in IT

Amanda Haynes (University of Limerick, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch114
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The term “glass ceiling,” first coined in 1986, is a metaphor for “those artificial barriers based on attitudinal or organizational bias that prevent qualified individuals from advancing upward in their organization into management-level positions.” (U.S. Department of Labor, 1991, p. 1). In has been noted in a number of publications that information technology (IT) is a particularly enlightening field for the study of gender inequalities, such as the glass ceiling. For example, Ramsay (2000) noted that while inequalities in more established industries might be considered a historical leftover of obsolete gender stereotypes, the newness of computing presents researchers with the chance to examine how gender relations develop in an industry apparently less fettered by tradition. IT presents an exemplar case study for those who wished to examine “… whether the dynamics of disadvantage have their roots as deeply in today’s employment settings …” (Ramsay, 2000, p. 215). Research indicates that IT has, however, developed to reflect precisely the same forms of gendered inequalities that have been documented in older industries (Suriya, 2003). The metaphor of the glass ceiling is equally applicable to IT. Panteli, Stack, and Ramsay (2001), in a comment on the United Kingdom (UK), which nonetheless resonates internationally, state, “The growth in IT should have opened up new possibilities for women to enter these occupations. However, its growth so far has been used to construct and maintain gender differences and to sustain male hierarchies” (p. 15).

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