THE GLASS CEILING

Women’s rise in corporate leadership is said to be trampled by a discriminatory “glass ceiling. Infact almost all disciplines of work are fraught with issues that throttle a female’s ascendency to the apex .

The term glass ceiling refers to “the unseen, yet unreachable impediment that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper echelons of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements.” Initially, the metaphor applied to barriers in the careers of women but was quickly extended to refer to ramparts hindering the advancement of minority men, as well. Moreover besides corporates, other careers like bureaucracy, police, army and politics – almost all hierarchical structures have a pejorative view of women at top. The dogma continues to be the cause of disillusionment of capable women .

It is a ceaseless theme in work that women worry fervently about being constrained in their career progress because they are females. These women hypothesize about how they might be perceived, whether they are being taken seriously or frivolously, rather than spend the energy doing a great job. The irony is that usually they are very uptight about this even before anything negative has happened. This can manifest itself in acrimony and suspicion that grows if unchecked, until eventually they become less efficacious in their professional roles and find themselves dropping behind their peer group on the career ladder. A painful example of the self-fulfilling prophecy at work!

As a rookie 20-year old recounts : “ Myself stepping foot onto a trading floor for the first time many years ago, I remember bracing myself for a bombardment of comments about blonde hair correlating with intellect and a daily critique on my wardrobe. Did it happen? Of course, but equally the alpha males who stepped onto that same trading floor with me were sneered at as being too fat, too thin, too posh, too geeky or too garish. In short, we were identified by our most obvious delineating factor, which in my case was that I was a blonde girl, and that formed the basis for comments intended to engage the floor. The important point is that the comments were not made because I was a girl, but because I had chosen to work in an environment where banter is as certain as lots of computer screens and anyone looking for a cosseted working environment simply shouldn’t choose that one”.

Women should celebrate their natural ability to multi task, their high EQ and their plethora of choices and stop being queasy about a glass ceiling until they hit it. One can’t imagine that Margaret Thatcher spent a lot of time cogitating how far she could go, she simply got on with the job in hand. Likewise, the Body Shop’s Anita Roddick, Lastminute.com’s Martha Lane Fox and Ultimo’s chief executive Michelle Mone have all believed that they could do it rather than hesitating that a glass ceiling might impede them. Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, erstwhile U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and first female 4-star general, Ann E. Dunwoody of U.S. Army also rose to the top , probably an anomaly.

It is a lamentable fact that often it is women themselves who bridle their female peers. I know of high-powered female professionals who would remove expensive jewellery or ‘dress down’ before a pitch with female clients for fear of being too threatening. Some of the worst workplace bullying starts in ladies toilets and continues with a round of noxious chinese whispers aimed at an unlucky colleague. Even worse, the media still enjoy to stereotype women according to their looks.

The women who succeed are those who choose to focus on the opportunities not the obstacles. They put their vigor into what they can achieve and not into considering what they cannot. They earn laudation and are taken seriously because they perform well.

Bollywood’s Vidya Balan should make a great role model for women at work, especially the way she is earning encomiums for making superb movies around a female protagonist who doesn’t need any underpinning from male stars. These movies have won over the classes as well as the masses !

 

  • Acrimony

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; a rough and bitter relationship

Synonyms : bitterness, acerbity, jaundice, tartness, thorniness

  • Anomaly

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Something that deviates from what is normal or standard

Synonyms : exception, oddity

Apex

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; the highest point (of something)

Other Meaning(s) : noun the point on the celestial sphere toward which the sun and solar system appear to be moving relative to the fixed tars;

Synonyms : solar apex, apex of the sun’s way, vertex, peak, acme

Ascendency

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun the state that exists when one person or group has power over another

Synonyms : dominance, ascendance, ascendence, ascendancy, control

  • Alpha

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : adjective; first in order of importance; e.g. the alpha male in the group of chimpanzees

Other Meaning(s) : noun; the first letter of Greek alphabet, the brightest star or main star in a constellation; e.g. Alpha Centauri

Banter

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; light teasing repartee;

Other Meaning(s) : Verb; be silly or tease one another

Synonyms : gossip, chaff

Bridle

Contextual Meaning(s) : Verb; to restrain or limit somebody’s progress or powers

Other Meaning(s) : Noun; headgear for a horse to give the rider control.

Synonyms : check, curb

  • Bracing

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : verb; making you feel refreshed or invigorated, e.g. a bracing cold shower

Other Meaning(s) : Noun; braces supporting something, a system of braces that are used to support or strengthen a structure

Synonyms : invigorating, refreshing

Cogitating

Contextual Meaning(s) : Verb; consider carefully and deeply, reflect upon.

Synonyms : cerebrating, thinking

Constrained

Contextual Meaning(s) : under a restraint

Other Meaning(s) : Adjective; lacking spontaneity; not natural

Synonyms : encumbered

Cosseted

Contextual Meaning(s) : Verb; treat with excessive indulgence

Synonyms : mollycoddled, pampered

  • Critique

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : noun; a serious examination and judgment of something

Other Meaning(s) : Noun; a written or broadcast assessment of something, usually a creative work, with comments on its good and bad qualities

Synonyms : review

  • Ceaseless

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : adjective; repeated in action, full of or involving repetition; e.g. a boring repetitive task

Synonyms : recurring, cyclical

Disillusionment

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun: freeing from false belief or illusions, a state of disaperintment

Synonyms : disenchantment, disillusion

Dogma

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun: a doctrine or code of beliefs accepted as authoritative; a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof

Synonyms : tenet  

 

  • Delineating

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; defining

Other Meaning(s) : Verb; to describe or explain something in detail, to sketch or draw something in outline

Synonyms : describe with precision

Echelons

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; bodies of troops arranged in a line.

Other Meaning(s) : Noun; a diffraction grating consisting of a pile of plates of equal thickness arranged stepwise with a constant offset

Synonyms : garrisons, regiments

Efficacious

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective: marked by qualities giving the power to produce an intended effect; producing or capable of producing an intended result or having a striking effect

Synonyms : effective, effectual

Encomiums

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; a formal expression of praise

Synonyms : paeans, panegyrics

  • Erstwhile

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : adjective; formerly holding a particular position or relationship; e.g. Since leaving the bank, she has been ostracized by her erstwhile colleagues.

Synonyms : previous, former

Fervently

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adverb; with passionate fervor

Synonyms : fierily, fervidly

Fraught

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; filled with or attended with; marked by distress

Synonyms : pregnant

Frivolously

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adverb; in a casual manner

Synonyms : farivolous

Garish

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; tastelessly showy

Synonyms : ostentatious, gaudy

Hypothesize

Contextual Meaning(s) : Verb; to believe especially on uncertain or tentative grounds

Synonyms : speculate, theorize, theorise, conjecture, hypothesise, hypothecate, suppose

Irony

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun: incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs;

Other Meaning(s) : a trope that involves incongruity between what is expected and what occurs; witty language used to convey insults or scorn

Synonyms : sarcasm, satire, caustic remark

  • Impede

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Verb; to interfere with the movement, progress, or development of something or somebody

Synonyms : obstruct, hinder

  • Impediment

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : noun; something that hinders progress, an impairment, especially one affecting speech

Synonyms : obstruction, obstacle

Lamentable

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; bad; unfortunate

Synonyms : distressing, pitiful

Laudation

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; applause or admiration for somebody

Synonyms : appreciation

Manifest

Contextual Meaning(s) : Verb: reveal its presence or make an appearance;

Other Meaning(s) : Noun; clearly revealed to the mind or the senses or judgment; noun a customs document listing the contents put on a hip or plane; record in a ship’s manifest; provide evidence for; stand as proof of; show by one’s behavior, attitude, or external attributes

Synonyms : attest, certify, demonstrate, evidence, apparent, evident, patent, plain, unmistakable

 

Noxious

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; injurious to physical or mental health

Synonyms : baneful, pernicious

Pejorative

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; expressing disapproval

Synonyms : dyslogistic, dislogistic

Pitch

Contextual Meaning(s) : Verb; sell or offer for sale from place to place

Other Meaning(s) : the action or manner of throwing something; (baseball) the act of throwing a baseball by a pitcher to a batter; promotion by means of an argument and demonstration; verb set to a certain pitch; lead (a card) and establish the trump suit; hit (a golf ball) in a high arc with a backspin; erect and fasten; fall or plunge forward; set the level or character of; throw or hurl from the mound to the batter, as in baseball; throw or toss with a light motion; move abruptly; heel over; be at an angle

Synonyms : promote

  • Plethora

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; a large or excessive amount of something

Synonyms : abundance, plenty

Prophecy

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun: knowledge of the future (usually said to be obtained from a divine source); a prediction uttered under divine inspiration

Synonyms : prognostication, vaticination, divination

  • Protagonist

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; the most important character in a novel, play, story, or other literary work

Synonyms : main character, hero, leading role

Queasy

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; causing or fraught with or showing anxiety

Synonyms : anxious, uneasy

Ramparts

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; walls meant for blocking

Synonyms : fortifications

Recounts

Contextual Meaning(s) : Verb; narrate or give a detailed account of

Synonyms : recites

Rookie

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; an awkward and inexperienced youth

Synonyms : beginner, greenhorn

  • Vigour

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; great physical or mental strength and energy, intensity or forcefulness in the way something is done

Synonyms : energy, dynamism, vitality, force

Sneered

Contextual Meaning(s) : Verb; smile contemptuously; express through a scornful smile

Other Meaning(s) : Noun; a facial expression of contempt or scorn; the upper lip curls; a contemptuous or scornful remark

Synonyms : leers

Throttle

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; place limits on (extent or access);

Other Meaning(s) : Verb; kill by squeezing the throat of so as to cut off the air noun a valve that regulates the supply of fuel to the engine; a pedal that controls the throttle valve; verb reduce the air supply;

Synonyms : choke, restrict, restrain, trammel

Trampled

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; crushed or broken by being stepped upon heavily

Synonyms : trodden

Underpining

Contextual Meaning(s) : Verb; supporting from beneath; supporting with evidence or authority or making more certain or confirm

Synonyms : buttressing, bolstering

Uptight

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; being in a tense state

Synonyms : jittery, jumpy, nervy, overstrung, restive

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