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What Is The Broken Rung + Should We Forget The Glass Ceiling For Now?

What Is The Broken Rung + Should We Forget The Glass Ceiling For Now?

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n the corporate world, two phrases frequently echo the challenges women encounter in their quest for equality and career progress: The Broken Rung and The Glass Ceiling. These phrases are more than mere jargon; they symbolize actual issues and hurdles faced by many women in their professional journeys. But what do they mean? Why do we focus on the glass ceiling and often ignore the broken rung — another integral part of women’s careers? What are the significance of both concepts, the implications they hold for women, and is it time to shift our attention away from the glass ceiling and toward the broken rung?

What is the broken rung?

the broken rung and the glass ceiling
Photo: Alexander Suhorucov/Pexels

The term “Broken Rung” refers to the first step on the corporate ladder. It’s crucial because it’s where many women, especially women of color, face the first and perhaps most insidious hurdle in their careers. This rung represents entry-level positions and early promotions, and it’s where biases and stereotypes often rear their heads. Studies have shown that performance bias frequently occurs at this level. Women are less likely to be hired or promoted, even when their qualifications match that of their male counterparts.

Now consider this: If a woman doesn’t get her foot on that first rung, how can she ascend the corporate ladder? This is the point where inequality starts to take root. The broken rung is, in essence, where the journey towards the glass ceiling begins.

Should we forget the glass ceiling?

Photo: Daniel Watson/Pexels

Glass Ceiling is a metaphorical barrier that restricts the career progression of women and other underrepresented groups in the workplace. The glass ceiling shows up in many forms, like having few women in top leadership positions, women getting paid less than men for the same work, not having enough chances for women to find mentors and sponsors, and hidden biases that stop women from getting promoted.

It’s also about traditional and conservative ideologies that make it hard for women to balance their work and personal lives, which can slow down their careers. On top of that, stereotypes about which jobs men and women should do, not having enough time off for family matters, and not getting the same networking opportunities strengthen the glass ceiling. All these things make it tough for women to get to the highest positions in companies and be successful.

What’s the way forward for women?

To move forward, we need to fix the problem at the starting point — the broken rung. Companies must actively ensure that everyone, regardless of their background, has the same chances from the beginning of their career. This doesn’t just help women; it also makes the workplace more diverse and brings in different perspectives and experiences. In an ideal world where we address this issue, things would be different. The glass ceiling, which has been a big problem, would lose its power because equity would present everyone on a level playing field from the onset.

The broken rung is a fundamental problem we need to fix since it is at the core of the inequality women face at work. By addressing this, we can create a more inclusive workplace that benefits everyone, not just women. As we fix the rung, the glass ceiling (which is still an obstacle) will become less of a problem, and we can truly achieve gender equality. It’s time to focus on the present and work towards a fairer future for everyone.

Featured image: PeopleImages/iStock


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