I think the majority of us want to see positive action against the 'glass ceiling' for women in the corporate world. It's about time sensible people ran our big corporations. However, we have an equally divisive 'glass floor' for men, which is not recognised, and yet it is causing just as much damage.
In terms of the glass ceiling for women, in September 2013 a poll found 80 per cent of people said they felt the 'glass ceiling was getting thicker.' It also noted that 17.3 per cent of FTSE 100 and 13.2 per cent of FTSE 250 board directors are women, an increase on the previous year. So, something is shifting, if only slowly, and people are at least aware of the problem.
Glass floor for men
There is a glass floor (people not even entering the industry) for men in the healthcare and primary education professions. According to recent figures one in ten nurses are male, this figure has remained static for the past four years. In primary schools, one in four schools have no male staff. Those figures are far worse than the ones for women in high office. We just don't have many men entering, yet alone staying in, these careers, and we need to do something about this.
In healthcare and primary education the work force has always been predominantly female. This has created historical imbalances.
• Men claim healthcare and primary education tend to have feminised environments which deter them.
• There is a deal of prejudice and suspicion of the motives of men wanting to do such work.
• As a consequence men entering the healthcare professions tend to gravitate towards the 'macho' jobs - intensive care, theatre and A&E.
• In primary education the men become head teachers much quicker than women.
• On the whole these jobs are not well paid, so men don't do them, how lame an excuse is that.
Many male nurses and healthcare workers have been subjected to prejudice, particularly when they move towards maternity and health visits. This is a mirror image of the women in the boardroom. How many women have been subject to prejudice and suspicion as they try to climb the corporate ladder?
Male role models
These feminised environment, suspicion and prejudice, may well be intimidating, but it is essential that men represent themselves more fully in healthcare and primary education. We need to teach our younger generations that it is OK for a man to be a nurse or a teacher, having vibrant young male school teachers would be a good start.
The present lack of positive male role models in our young people's lives is a real crisis, and we need to encourage positive action in whatever ways we can. Enabling men to overcome prejudice and fears and become nurses and care assistants would be another good start.
Historically women have taken on the caring roles and this has shaped these industries and the way we work, there will always be a gender bias. Men have historically given away their (innate and very capable) ability to be carers and instead pursued more 'befitting' careers. It is time men stopped hiding behind this historical anomaly and took their rightful place as 'as good as' carers and play workers. We owe it to our children.
Women historically were unable to take on the top jobs, prejudice and laws from men restricted such opportunities. Many women were also content to play the lesser and more supportive roles. It is time women stopped hiding their organisational and corporate light, and took equal control of the boardrooms of high industry. Let's have some corporations making collaborative rather than competitive decisions.
It will take some doing, but surely, in todays' enlightened and equality driven society we should all be working to eliminate the glass ceilings and floors which belong to our past, and definitely not our future.