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The glass ceiling just got more complicated

The glass ceiling just got more complicated
Fortune
By Caroline Fairchild
Published: July 16, 2014
>> The glass ceiling just got more complicated

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The glass ceiling just got more complicated 

Female managers are reluctant to hire or promote other women, according to a  growing body of evidence. Experts tend to blame the phenomenon on women seeing their female coworkers as competitive threats, but a  new study from the Academy of Management uncovers a different theory. 

Female business leaders who advocate for other women are penalized with worse performance ratings, according to the research. Why? Women who take on employee diversity as a focus are viewed as "selfishly advancing the social standing of their own demographic groups," says the paper. Moreover, male colleagues are rewarded for taking on the same cause.

While males in leadership are perceived as warm and inclusive for spearheading diversity initiatives, women are simply viewed as cold and self-serving. The researchers, who collected data on 362 executives earning an average salary of  $174,000 a year, believe their findings contribute, at least in part, to corporate America's glass ceiling. 

"Ironically, our results suggest that on balance the glass ceiling may actually become stronger, rather than weaker, with a woman leader," according to the report. 

There is no silver-bullet solution, but a good place to begin is with self-awareness of biases. Think about the last time you heard a female manager advocate for a female employee lower down the pipeline. Did you say to yourself, "I'll bet she is saying that because she is a woman"? Whether the answer is yes or no, if the dialogue were more open about some of these prejudices, more women likely would end up in management roles.

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