The mythical "glass ceiling" for women

Tracy Coenen

The longer I'm in the business world, the more I believe that there is no such thing as a "glass ceiling" for women. At one time, I think it did exist. Women had few choices in the workplace in the 1950's and 1960's, and often had to pick between being a teacher, a nurse, or a secretary. It was rare for women to be in high-powered positions.

So of course, it has taken time for women to get the opportunity to have the same jobs and same pay as men. And I think we've been there for a while. Women have every opportunity that men do, and it's up to them to take advantage of it.

The Milwaukee Business Journal did a story last week that was promoted on its front page with the tag: "Thick Glass Ceiling." (subscription required) The story lamented the fact that of the 100 highest-paid executives at Milwaukee area public companies, only six were women. I have a hard time understanding, though, how the reporter can suggest that this number is proof of a glass ceiling.

Does this number prove that there's wide-scale discrimination against women? Or does it instead prove that women haven't done what it takes to get to the top? It's rather popular to speak out for women's rights and to say that women should be "given opportunities" to be CEOs and CFOs. I completely disagree. Women should earn those opportunities. And they can earn them, as proven by those who already have.