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Twenty years later: explaining the persistence of the glass ceiling for women leaders

Birgit Weyer (Weyer und Hansen, GbR, Lindau, Germany)

Women in Management Review

ISSN: 0964-9425

Article publication date: 28 August 2007

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this conceptual paper is to provide a theoretical explanation for the persistence of the glass ceiling keeping women from assuming leadership positions.

Design/methodology/approach

The methodological approach of this paper is to compare and contrast social role theory and expectation states theory as theoretical underpinnings to explain the persistence of a glass ceiling for women leaders.

Findings

Both social role theory and expectation states theory belong to the structural/cultural models describing differences between the genders. Social role theory and expectation states theory explicate diverse reasons for the emergence of these differences. However, both theories propose that gender differences will result in evaluation bias against women.

Practical implications

As a result of evaluation bias against women, the glass ceiling phenomenon keeping women from assuming top leadership positions continues to occur.

Originality/value

This paper is being written on the 20 year anniversary of the term glass ceiling being coined. It adds to the body of literature by closely examining two structural/cultural theories as possible causes to an invisible barrier which keeps women leaders from entering top level management positions.

Keywords

Citation

Weyer, B. (2007), "Twenty years later: explaining the persistence of the glass ceiling for women leaders", Women in Management Review, Vol. 22 No. 6, pp. 482-496. https://doi.org/10.1108/09649420710778718

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited