The changing status of women in the workforce has been one of the most dramatic social trends in the past forty years. Although women now make up 42 percent of the Australian labour force, the percentage of women at senior management level does not reflect their representation in the total workforce.
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs report of the Inquiry into Equal Opportunity and Equal Status for Women in Australia "Half Way to Equal" found that:
analysis of labour force participation statistics reveals that women/s participation in almost all occupations appears to resemble a pyramid, with the majority congregated at the lower levels and very few in senior management positions.
The report stated that:
many submissions focused on the lack of promotional opportunities as being the consequence of the so-called glass ceiling, whereby women can see a career path but they are unable to progress beyond a certain level for a variety of reasons. The experience of glass ceilings was identified by submissions as occurring in a wide range of occupations, but particularly in the professions and academia where men and women generally enter the field with equivalent qualifications and often in similar numbers. Despite this, the higher status and better remunerated positions are overwhelmingly held by men.
This research report defines the term "glass ceiling", examines the current status of women in the workforce, and in management in particular, and presents evidence of the glass ceiling. The factors responsible for this transparent barrier to women/s entry into senior management are examined and conclusions are drawn as to the future of women in management based on this review of the literature.