Glass Ceiling And Its Effect On Mental Health

The entire debate around the inefficiency of women because of their parted roles at home and at the workplace is itself unfair and patriarchal.

Even as companies across the world are significantly promoting gender diversity, women remain a minority in the decision-making positions, as a result of the glass ceiling effect

Simply speaking, the glass ceiling effect is the prevalent resistance that keeps women from reaching top ranks in major companies. It constitutes vertical (often invisible) discrimination against women, within companies. To justify the glass ceiling, leaders often use personal life events such as marriage, taking care of children and responsibilities at home. They face unusual treatment at work when they return from maternity leaves or sabbaticals.

The entire debate around the inefficiency of women because of their parted roles at home and at the workplace is itself unfair and patriarchal. While multitasking is a useful skill to develop, to expect only women to do it and then discriminate them on the basis of that is hypocritical.

Women also have to grapple with mansplaining, wherein men explain work and ideas to them in a condescending way assuming women have no knowledge about the topic, at work. Another persistent issue is the status quo. It is an aversion to change owing to power dynamics and office politics. The status quo can show up subtly against women employees. They have to listen to the bosses because ‘one is supposed to’, even when they have a valid point and a process requires change. The status quo can, in the long term, result in their careers growing stagnant despite possessing all the capabilities.

Dealing with these issues while juggling responsibilities at work and at home can take a toll on women’s mental health.

Impact of glass ceiling effect and workplace issues:

The phenomenon of the glass ceiling affects the career trajectory, earning potential and status of women. The effect does not end with the workday; it fans out in all areas of the person’s life. They begin to view themselves negatively, and that is a vulnerability factor for many health problems. Studies show that women are 20-40% more likely to face mental health challenges, compared to men.

The glass ceiling combined with the cut-throat competition; the need to maintain financial stability, multiple roles, demands and norms of the society results in development of an array of physical and mental health issues. In short term, it affects decision-making, problem-solving and the ability to live life functionally. If left unaddressed, it can lead to bigger mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

How to tackle the mental health impact of glass ceiling effect and workplace issues:

To talk about the very existence of such unfair practices puts a woman under a very uncomfortable and emotionally exhausting position. Many may not blow the whistle because of the fear of losing their job or a risk of losing their reputation. Unless we really address systemic injustices from an intersectional lens, we will not be able to tackle these problems completely. All genders have an equal potential to contribute in the workforce and employers better not lose out on good performing candidates just due to some irrational ideas.

Companies need to endeavor with resilience towards creating an equal environment where status – quo and biases related to any social or individual identities should be taken in notice and not tolerated.

Parallely, women should break the glass ceilings in their mind. What may help them is learning and refining assertiveness skills to points effectively before management and colleagues, and ensure better communication.

To address the mental health challenges that come on the way, identifying them is the first step. Women should look out for symptoms such as persistent feelings of hopelessness or sadness, drastic changes in sleeping and eating patterns, fatigue, excessive fear or worry, persistent headaches or digestive problems, and social withdrawal.

It is important to remember that mental health challenges can be addressed. There are experts available on various platforms, who offer a gender-sensitive, social-justice-oriented, trauma-informed, psychosocial approach to provide treatment and care for women. They can enable a women and non- binary individuals to feel empowered and know that their voice matters. Therapy can also help women to navigate through work stress along with the stressors which may be coming from their personal commitments.

An injustice should be considered what is it regardless of who is reporting and where is it coming from. Therapy and emotional support can enable a woman to deal with these more efficiently alongside finding a safe space where they can explore their identities and also feel confident about it.

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Mental Health Glass ceiling


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