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ERIC Number: EJ853859
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Sep
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0036-6439
Navigating the Labyrinth
Eagly, Alice H.; Carli, Linda L.
School Administrator, v66 n8 p10-16 Sep 2009
The glass ceiling has shattered. The metaphor of a glass ceiling, an absolute barrier to women's advancement, is seriously outdated. Some women do make it to high positions as big-city superintendents of schools, governors, secretaries of state and, even occasionally, as Fortune 500 CEOs. The glass ceiling metaphor has great appeal but is misleading in characterizing the problems that women leaders encounter. One problem is this metaphor's image of an absolute barrier at a specific high level in organizations. The existence of women in high places negates that charge. Another problem with the glass ceiling metaphor is that it represents a single unvarying obstacle. But the challenges that women face are multiple, complex and changing. The image of a transparent glass barrier also suggests that women can't see the obstacles they face ahead of time. But some impediments, such as balancing a career and family, are obvious, and even the more subtle forms of discrimination can be identified and understood long before women reach the advanced stages of their careers. In the authors' book "Through the Labyrinth: The Truth about How Women become Leaders", they explain that many factors slow women's advancement. Their metaphor of the labyrinth illustrates women's complex and circuitous paths to leadership. Some women do make it to the center of the labyrinth where leadership resides. Those who make their way through the labyrinth enjoy higher wages, greater respect and more authority. However, compared with the relatively straight route taken by men, women generally have to exert more effort and navigate more carefully to overcome obstacles. And women have had to be more patient because they seldom find themselves on the same fast track that quite a few men enjoy. Thus, what can women do to overcome these obstacles? The authors state that one effective strategy is to combine the best of masculine and feminine qualities. The masculine part of this strategy involves displaying competence by being exceptionally knowledgeable, competent and authoritative. The feminine part involves displaying communal skills by being exceptionally considerate, supportive and inspiring to colleagues and subordinates.
American Association of School Administrators. 801 North Quincy Street Suite 700, Arlington, VA 22203-1730. Tel: 703-528-0700; Fax: 703-841-1543; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A