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What Keeps Career Women From Moving Up--From Succeeding?

Updated on March 24, 2017

What Keeps Women from Moving Up?

Argonne National
Argonne National

Career Women Succeeding

Of the 190 Heads of State in the world, 90 are women. Only 13% of the world's parliament members are women. In corporations only about 15-16% have broken through the glass ceiling of middle management to upper management. Since 2002, these numbers have been declining. And yet, more and more college women are scholastically outranking men in fields like math and science.  So, what keeps women from moving up?

Facebook's Cheif Operating Officer


Recently, my daughter told me her corporation's president attacked her at a meeting of her peers for some minor paperwork issue. Since she had been anticipating praise for her successes, she was a little surprised. Instead of responding in a strong manner, knowing that her job performance and numbers were above average, she reacted the way that most women react. She questioned herself and apologized. Why did she do that?

Women Too Critical of Themselves

We women are critical of ourselves because we are encouraged to think less of ourselves than of others, especially men. Our own thought process is one thing that keeps women from moving up. We are taught to accept criticism, take care of others, put ourselves last, and defer to men. Most of us learn these lessons too well, from our society, from our religions, and from our mothers. We are so well conditioned that we often don't recognize these traits in ourselves. So, we unconsciously hold ourselves back from even trying to break through that glass ceiling.

Dress for Success

Roesetta Thurman
Roesetta Thurman

Not for the Office


Have the Look of Self-Confidence.



Often, the lip service one hears in a company is that hard work will get women promoted. In reality, it takes more than that.

  1. Dress for success. Before they will accept you into their club, you have to look like one of them. Go to a high end clothing store to see what a business woman who makes a high income would buy. Now, go to a store where you can afford to shop and find clothes as close in style, color, and fabric as the ones at that store.
  2. Talk like they talk. Do you need to improve your diction? Should you take a class to improve your grammar? If they all speak in a formal manner, then casual or slang speech won't move you up that ladder.
  3. Step away from the crowd. If low cut sweaters and 4" heels are the norm in lower positions but not at the top, then change your style. Your friends may not like seeing you move away from their "good-old-girl" group, but it's what you have to do. Tell them why you are doing it. You might be able to improve the overall perception of working women where you work--have them gain more respect from management.
  4. Keep track of your accomplishments. Be able to show what you have been asked to do and show how you did it and how much time and effort it took. Document through paper or email. If someone tells you to do something, go to your computer and email the person to define the task for your record.
  5. Make sure you get proper credit for what you do. It is good to support your boss, but when you come up with an idea or improvement, you should be recognized for that. Figure out a way to make that happen without appearing too pushy.
  6. Don't sell your sex for your job. That may move you up quicker, but it will damage your image greatly as a person. Everyone who knows will have trouble taking you seriously.
  7. Make friends. Make as many friends in management as you can without getting too personal. Keep things professional, but friendly. Complimenting people is a good way to be noticed favorably.
  8. Imagine yourself in the next higher position , think of it often, and keep that image in your head. Picture yourself sitting in that chair making each decision the way you would make the decision. This is critical to breaking that glass ceiling!
  9. Don't be nervous. Practice self-confidence. Speak in a determined manor.
  10. Be creative. What do you think the company could do to improve its image or business? Wait for the right moment and when you're with the right people before you present your ideas. You should always be thinking of this. Management wants people who have something to offer the company.

What keeps women from moving up? Yes, men, but also women. Let's start making the change with ourselves. Become the woman you were meant to be!

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    • Beverly Stevens profile image

      Beverly Stevens 7 years ago from College Station

      Interesting point of view. Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      Sophia Angelique 7 years ago

      @ Bev, I think there are other factors here which no one is looking at. The first is that I truly don't believe that the majority of men can ever truly forget their sexuality. And therefore, regardless of the law, this will always manifest in the work place in some way. The biological role of the man and woman partnership is that man protects. The protector always holds the place of leadership. I think boardrooms dominated by men are the wrong place for women to be. My response is always, "Why don't more women build up their own corporations?" Men are doing it all the time. Until they do, there isn't going to be much of a change.