Women CEOs Will Continue Breaking Through Glass Ceiling

At the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, CA.
Meg Whitman (right) is one example of a woman who has successfully broken through the “glass ceiling.” Whitman has served as president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard since September 2011.

Recently, an intriguing article was written about the future of women as CEOs. ChiefExecutive.net’s Dale Buss published a strikingly optimistic piece, citing statistics that claimed women in the C-suite would be more prevalent in the coming years.

While reading a piece that answered questions instead of asking them was enjoyable, I noticed a disconcerting theme about the alleged shattered glass ceiling: Women are held to a higher standard than their male counterparts.

Male vs. Female Trends

Buss quoted two anomalies found in studying male and female CEOs. The first of these is that women are more likely to be fired than men. So why does the business world hold women to a higher standard? For example, Buss said the top 10 Fortune 500 CEOs — all male — attended state schools for their undergraduate degrees. The few females on the full list attended schools such as Princeton, Northwestern, Cornell, Stanford and MIT. It is a shame that once these women earned some of the most prestigious degrees in the country, they then had to fight their way up a corporate ladder and break a glass ceiling only to have less job security than their male counterparts.

The other anomaly Buss found was that while most men are groomed for and then promoted to the CEO position from within the company, most women are hired from other companies to take the top spot. While these findings can be applied in a negative way, I want to look at the bright side that Buss pointed out.

“In addition to seeing many more women CEOs a quarter century from now, Strategy& says that they will be greater connectors and greater communicators than they are today,” Buss said. This means that the women with a “Chief Fill-In-The-Blank Officer” title are networking and building relationships outside of their immediate circles.

Positive Communication Key to Success

The best way to break the glass ceiling and meet aforementioned high standards is for women to positively communicate about one another and build their networks by connecting their colleagues, thus encouraging new relationships to form. Passing an opportunity along to a college sorority sister or fraternity brother, and keeping in touch with a roommate from a PRSSA event are just two ways for students to start practicing this now.

The good news is, women do not need ivy league diplomas in their hands and shards of glass in their hair to be a CEO; they just have to remember to stay connected.

In what ways do you stay connected and communicate with your network?

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Sienna Badura is president of the College of Charleston PRSSA Chapter. She is a graduating senior majoring in communication and minoring in leadership, change and social responsibility. You can follow her on Twitter @SiennaBadura or connected with her on LinkedIn.

1 thought on “Women CEOs Will Continue Breaking Through Glass Ceiling

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      An encouraging read. In India where I live & work, it is heartening to see many women shattering the glass ceiling, especially in sectors like finance and information technology. The biggest state owned bank of India is, for the first time in its 150 years ‘history, is being headed by a woman who has brought in a certain freshness of approach. Two of the biggest private sector banks are also being headed by women and many women are to be found in the uppermost echelon of the corporate world and bureaucracy!

      There is a lot to be done, especially in terms of organisational support for new mothers and the societal / family support to women aspiring to have a full time career. However, in India it is becoming more & more common for women to pursue full time careers and at least in the teeming middle class of India, women’s careers are being given due importance, almost as much as their male counterparts! We have a huge pool of women doctors, professors, engineers, lawyers, social workers & finance professional which the country is slowly accepting as a valuable asset.

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