Breaking the Glass Ceiling
Far too enough I have heard both men and women talk about how women the encounter in the work space are incompetent - and that they prefer dealing with men instead. Because of the strict gender roles that place men in certain jobs - which are generally the higher paying ones - women have to work twice as hard to prove they deserve their positions.
The debate around women’s competence in their jobs starts much earlier. A son’s education is guaranteed, a daughter has to earn it. When money is tight, parents would rather pay for their daughter’s wedding than education, because after all that’s where their future lies doesn’t it? As a result, the women who get ‘permission’ or find themselves forced by circumstance into the working world lack the same resources and teachings that had been available to their male counterparts. Even those who have had the privilege to receive a good education and are not lagging behind struggle to go up the ladder. Women often have to face sexualisation in office spaces and their skills and abilities are often put at par with the policing of what they wear. They also additionally struggle with fighting off “glass walls” - a term I recently came across that describes the boxing in off certain jobs as being masculine and feminine. Women are seen as the secretary, not the CEO. The phrase “aurton wale kaam karo” is far too common in our society, and it's not an idea that is limited to Pakistan.
According to the Global Gender Gap Index, Pakistan ranks as the second lowest country in the world for gender inequality. This inequality is present in multiple arenas including access to education, empowerment goals and entering the economic sphere.
The higher up we go in rank, the more obvious this discrimination becomes. “The Glass Ceiling” is a popular term used to describe this phenomenon whereby certain groups in society are disadvantaged and lack the same resources as others in their journey to top positions. While the phrase was initially used to refer to women who could not break through a certain threshold, it now also encapsulates the struggle of other minority groups who face struggles of a similar nature.
Minority groups - especially in the current political climate that increasingly blurs the lines between religion and politics - have not had it easy. Discrimination is no less present here, but its harder to be sure. Because no one ever openly claims that a promotion or a job was held back due to someone's religion or ethnicity, one has to read between the lines.
We’re often told ‘the sky's the limit’. But when it comes to the corporate world, this clearly doesn’t seem to be the case for everyone.