Corporate Glass House


“I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations….I have built my own factory on my own ground.” – Madam Walker, National Negro Business League Convention, July 1912

Madam C. J. Walker was the first African American woman to become a millionaire through her line of hair products. Madam Walker promoted herself and did not wait for others to promote her.

In current times, all females are in the glass ceiling. The glass ceiling is defined as barrier to career advancement: an unofficial but real impediment to somebody’s advancement into upper-level management positions because of discrimination based on the person’s gender, age, race, ethnicity, or sexual preference. Some of the obstacles that are preventing females from having senior executive status are lack of strategic networks, undermined value of ability, work-life balance, and work style.

Strategic Networks: Women must have balance professional and social networks. Women tend to connect with networks that are closely like themselves especially in race and age. In order to join networks that assist in getting you in the right circle you must listen to your peers on the networks that belong to. This also goes along for when you take your child to dance class or soccer practice. Even though you might feel you will not be welcomed in some of these networks you must come out of your comfort box to develop relationships outside of your norm.

Undermined Value of Ability: Organizations recognize the abilities of women but when a woman is promoted they normally hear this comment from their peers, “You got the promotion because you are a woman or because of your race.” Women tend to adopt a certain policy outside of what an organization has set. For example, if a company institutes a four day 10 hour work week, most women will either work half a day from home or in the office trying to prove they feel they must go above and beyond to prove their worth.

Work-Life Balance: In a male dominated corporate world, men feel that women are not able to balance their work against their family life. Though in 2013 you see more house husbands from the economic downturn, women are still perceived

as the person that runs the household even with a fulltime position. Women feel more pressure to choose work over home. This is even more difficult for single mothers.

Work Style: Women are perceived to do anything they can to climb the corporate ladder. They are harsh on their subordinates, angry, and outspoken. Males tend to feel that women should be more compassionate and nurturing. When women are decisive and resolute and the same comments come from a woman as their male counterpart it is looked upon as not being becoming.

As you can see, women in the workplace still have leaps and bounds to go until they will be recognized equal to the male peers. Madam C. J. Walker did not wait for anyone to recognize her abilities to be successful. She knew what she could accomplish and she succeeded through obstacles. Women of today need to learn from Madam Walker to promote oneself as a proud and confident woman that will not let anyone or anything stop them from making their accomplishment upon the world.