Is the Glass Ceiling Getting any Thinner?

Yes OK, the question must be what is a bloke doing writing about the glass ceiling?

I’ve been training several recruitment consultants lately and this was one of the areas we discussed. According to many of my students, 

“When a guy wants a job badly, even if he can only do 60%, he will say he can do all of it and try and learn the rest when he is in position.

If a woman wants the same job, unless she can persuade herself that she can actually do 90%, she won’t even put herself forward.  We really have to push them as we want the client to get the choice of the best candidates for the role”

For years now, we’ve known about the glass ceiling – that metaphorical barrier that prevents women getting to the top of their chosen profession. 

Whether it still exists is open to debate. Certainly, there has been progress of a sort. Having said that, in the UK there are only eight women CEOS in the FTSE 100, and no women of colour, but that’s a whole other issue…

Meanwhile, none of us blink an eyelid these days finding a female top politician. But are these women just the minority of high-achievers who knew how to battle their way past middle-management status? Or maybe they had the right connections to get them to the top? What about the thousands of female salespeople, account managers and customer service managers in middle ranking positions still battling for a director role? 

Men still outnumbering women 2:1 in top jobs

Here in the UK, a report this year by the women’s rights group, the Fawcett Society (FS) shows that women are still outnumbered by men in top jobs by 1:2. In Education, 65 per cent of secondary school teachers are female, but only 40 per cent are headteachers. When it comes to the law, 37 per cent of Court of Appeal judges are women and 30 per cent are in the High Court.

Even the pandemic highlighted the discrepancy between females and males when it came to decision-making for the nation. An FS spokesman said: “At the height of the pandemic only two out of 56 Government press briefings were led by a female politician and women were underrepresented across all covid-19 advisory groups.”

How to break the glass ceiling


One of the best ways women have of ending up on a par with – or better than – their male colleagues, is to arm themselves with the qualifications they need to climb higher. With over 40% of school leavers going to university, a degree just won’t stand out. That’s where a Post-graduate Diploma, or a Master’s degree can help you open doors. You can work and study at the same time, thanks to the various online and part-time courses available these days.


Having a female – or male – mentor who is already in a similar position can also help hugely with your career progression. They can advise on what you need to focus on in your current role and who you need to impress.


Becoming a workplace champion doesn’t do you any harm. Quite the opposite. Offering to lend a hand on projects above your remit to get experience is a good career move. But so too, is helping to run the social club (an excellent networking opportunity, for starters).

Identifying where the ceiling is

It may be that you’re fortunate to work in an organisation where no such glass ceiling exists. If not though, find out how long it’s been there for and what past attempts have been made to break it. The more you know about it, the better armed you are to tackle it.

Find out more

If you are in a customer facing role (with either external clients or internal stakeholders) you can now complete a diploma in Business Management while holding down your current job. That’s because our NCC Education Level 7 Diploma in Business Management comprises of a long weekend of face-to-face tuition, followed by around ten weeks of supported online learning per module. You only need to choose six of the eight modules. Contact us to find out more.

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