Leadership is defined in many ways but perhaps the clearest definition is that leadership is the means for inspiring followers with a vision to accomplish organizational or individual goals. Within this definition there are many factors that impact leadership.
One factor that impacts leadership is gender and prejudice. Glass ceiling is a term that is often applied to women but it is actually broad in scope as it refers to minorities and women. To understand the change which has taken place in the workplace one needs to understand the meaning of glass ceiling. According to the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission: The “glass ceiling” is a concept that betrays America’s most cherished principles. It is the unseen, yet unbreachable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements (Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, 1995).
Glass ceiling has its roots in racial and gender discrimination practices that date prior to the Civil War. In the post-Civil War era racial minorities faced fierce segregation in jobs and women continued facing job segregation based on sex. The history of glass ceiling begins in these discriminatory practices which have grown out of stereotypes concerning women and minorities.
As a result of these beliefs in stereotypes, women and minorities were not allowed to hold positions of authority in the work place until laws were enacted which gave these groups the right to pursue better pay and equal position. These changes in laws forced changes to glass ceiling by creating a more equal playing field.
Globalization has forced diversity into the workplace and this factor is altering leadership. Because of increased diversity, women and minorities are now able to enter leadership positions. This is altering the way that companies are run and how they will be led in the future.