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The Now, The New & The Next in Careers

Career Ladder vs. Glass Escalator

21 Jul 2012 8:48 PM | Anonymous

By Joan Runnheim Olson

In a recent article, "Bypassing the Glass Escalator Threat," written by Robin Madell and published in The Glass Hammer, Madell shares the challenges women face moving up in the workplace. While the glass ceiling is a metaphor we've become familiar with, another threat for women is the glass escalator. The article explains that while men dominate the financial services industry, departments such as human resources and marketing tend to be female-dominated, with the executive head, more often than not, held by a man. This phenomenon is known as the glass escalator. Not only are men promoted more often than women in male-dominated fields, but also in female-dominated, including nursing and education. Reasons the author cites for this include the fact that women prefer to work on improving their contributions to the company and finding work/life balance which often results in staying in one role longer than might be good.

Ora Shtull, author of "The Glass Elevator: A Guide to Leadership Presence for Women on the Rise," suggests the following strategies to make women promoteable:

1) Avoid raising problems without coming up with at least one solution to propose. It's easy to complain about something, but you can increase your value when you come up with solutions to problems.

2) Assess any gaps in your network. Widen your connections more strategically. Who do you want to connect to- perhaps an industry leader or maybe someone a level or two above you? For additional tips on building and maintaining your network, check out my special report titled Networking: Taking it to the Next Level (

3) Promote yourself. Be sure others know what you're doing, how you're doing it uniquely, and it's positive impact. I encourage my coaching clients to use the "Eight Word Message" coined by the Five O'Clock Club ( keep those higher up apprised of their accomplishments. This technique will help you keep your career on track and improve your chances of getting ahead. Let's try putting this into action. You meet your boss's boss in the elevator and she asks, "How are you doing?" Rather than simply saying fine, you say, "Great! Now that I just finished up the ABC project ahead of schedule and under budget."

Bottom line: If you want to climb the proverbial career ladder, try improving your communication, networking, and promotion skills.

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