It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor
Wendy Piersall | Excelle
As a prominent woman in technology, I get asked all of the time about discrimination, glass ceilings, and how to get ahead. I have a lot of thoughts about these issues, some popular, some maybe not so popular. Is there a glass ceiling? Sadly yes, there sometimes is. But what seems like discrimination might be something else–something that’s better addressed in the mirror instead of in the company of men.
How can I say this? While I’ve longed for the other side of that glass ceiling for many years, I’ve also seen myself becoming the queen of excuses:
• Will people think I am a bad mom for being so ambitious?
• Will I threaten my husband if I surpass his income?
• How can I run a business when I can hardly run the dishwasher enough to keep my kitchen clean?
• Will I threaten my existing friendships with women if I upset the balance of power or popularity?
• Who am I to try and be that successful?
What I and many readers of my blog have found, is that while discrimination is something to be fought and prevented, the more pressing issue to deal with is not the glass ceiling, but the sticky floor.
When I was at BlogHer, a women’s blogging conference, this year, I attended a session full of women business owners. And one of those participants stood up and said just that, “It’s not a glass ceiling, it’s a sticky floor.” We laughed, of course, but every single woman in that room knew exactly what she meant.
Women start businesses for very different reasons than men do. Typically women aren’t about the power, the glory, or even the money. Women start businesses to pursue a passion, create more work-life balance, or to find ways to give back to a community. It’s no wonder that with different goals than our male counterparts, we end up in different places.
Now, I certainly am not justifying any sort of real discrimination here–which we can all agree exists at times. But I do think that there are two factors at play when numbers and statistics get skewed in the favor of men. I think that we, as women, tend to pursue paths that will never lead us to the glass ceiling in the first place.
If that’s intentional, then we don’t have a problem with it. But if we want to be on the other side of that ceiling, we can’t be focused on the obstacles that get in our way of getting there. If we do, then we are the ones holding ourselves back from all that we deserve. And the solution to that isn’t fighting discrimination: it’s to break through our internal glass ceiling first.