Perspectives on the Glass Ceiling in Indian Enterprises

Perspectives on the Glass Ceiling in Indian Enterprises

Rita Latha D’Couto (St. Joseph’s College for Women, India) and C. Ganesh (University of Kerala, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2952-3.ch016


The genesis of the present study is from the widespread observation that only a small proportion of top level managerial positions in corporate organizations are occupied by women, both globally and in India. Although women are making their entry into the corporate arena in increasing numbers, with credentials equivalent to those of their male counterparts, they do not appear to be progressing to the ranks of senior management at comparable rates. It is felt that in their quest for career advancement and career success, women face hurdles which are not experienced by men. A glass ceiling, which can be conceptualized as a subtle barrier comprising attitudinal and cultural biases, appears to constrain the upward mobility of managerial women. This phenomenon of low representation of women in the highest echelons of management seems to be in sharp contrast with the trend highlighted in recent human resources management literature which views the management skills and leadership styles traditionally attributed to women as ideally suited to the needs of modern organizations. Hence, the present study was undertaken with the objective of exploring the various individual and organizational influences which serve to constrain their progress to positions of power and influence in corporate organizations.
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Background Of The Study

Despite predictions that globalization will increase the number of women at senior management levels, there has not been a significant change in the proportion of women in the executive suite (Osland, Adler, & Brody, 2002). It is argued that the intensification of global competition leads to a definite escalation in the opportunity cost of relying on the historic male-dominated pattern of senior leadership. This concern is echoed in the view of Harvard professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter who emphasizes that in a global economy, ‘Meritocracy – letting talent rise to the top, regardless of where it is found and whether it is male or female – has become essential to business success’ (Nichols, 1994).

With women playing an increasingly significant role in purchasing decisions, companies realize that failing to understand women’s perspectives and needs can seriously disadvantage them. From this viewpoint too, the representation of women in senior management positions is increasingly being seen as a matter of strategic competitive advantage.

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