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Glass Ceiling, Organisational Commitment and Well being : A Comparative Study of Women Executives in Multinational Organisations

Singh, S.*, Gumber, V.** and Singh, U.***

* ** ***

Reader, Deptt. of Psychology, M.D. University, Rohtak Guest Faculty, Govt. College, Faridabad Lecturer, Dronacharya College, Gurgaon

Position of women has gone under a lot of change from pre-Vedic to modern times. They have carved a niche for themselves, in what is believed to be predominately a male domain. They have paved their way in both traditional and non-traditional fields. Though they have emerged as trend setters in corporate world, yet engrossed in perceiving high as well as low ‘Glass Ceiling’ phenomena. In this context, the present study was designed to make a comparative analysis of glass ceiling perceivers and non-perceivers in relation to organizational commitment and well being. For this purpose, a total sample of 350 female executives, working at middle level of management, having atleast five years of managerial experience belonging to an age-group of 35-40 years was selected. Self-construed Glass Ceiling

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Questionnaire, Organisational Commitment Questionnaire (Allen & Meyer, 1990) and P.G.I. Well-being Scale (Verma & Verma, 1989) were administered to all the female executives to assess these variables. The results of study revealed significant differences in their perception of glass ceiling in work set-up. Moreover, the females who perceived more gender bias in their set-up had exhibited low normative, affective and continuance commitment. High Glass Ceiling perceivers also showed poor well being. The obtained findings are very alarming in the sense that there is a dire need to change the mind-set of females in relation to their gender-biased perception of work setup. Extensive research work is also required to melt this ‘Glass Ceiling Myth’ in order to reshape their attitude and shatter this barrier so that every one in set up can reach at heights of success. Keywords: Glass ceiling, Normative, Commitment, Well-being. Continuance and Affective

Position of women has gone under a lot of change from pre-Vedic to modern times. There have been infact two phases in the life of women-period of subjection and the period of liberalization. The former stretched for a long period and the latter has caught its pace. With more and more women becoming educated and aware of their rights, the times are changing. Adam for field, Eve for hearth, no longer hold a relevance. Women have carved a niche for themselves, in what is believed to be predominately a male domain. They are all trendsetters in their own right. Earlier they were concentrated mainly in the ‘feminized’ professions, where

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at the same time they remained in lower job categories than men. But now the scenario has totally changed. These females have made inroads into nontraditional fields especially in the corporate world. There is an evidence (Cox & Harquail, 1991; Strober, 1982; Wood, Corcoran & Courant, 1993) that employers are promoting women systematically by introducing family friendly policies in work set-up to retain them. However, who choose nontraditional jobs do face special constraints in the work place like isolation, limited access to mentoring, sexual harassment and glass ceiling. The term ‘Glass Ceiling’ is in vogue in the current era of organisational behaviour. This term has two parts, Glass + ceiling. ‘Glass’ is a “transparent” and ceiling is “top level.” This situation is referred to as a ‘ceiling’ as there is a limitation blocking upward advancement, and glass (transparent) because the limitation is not immediately apparent and is normally an unwritten and unofficial policy. This term was coined by the Wall Street Journal in 1986 by Carol Hymowitz and Timothy Schellhardt to describe the apparent barriers that prevent women from reaching the top of the corporate hierarchy; and it is ten years since the American government specially appointed Glass Ceiling Commission, published its

recommendations. ‘The Glass Ceiling effect’ is an unseen, yet unreachable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper ranks of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements (US Glass Ceiling Commission, 1995).

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Actually, the glass ceiling effect is not generic discrimination rather it is a discrimination in relation to the inequality of promotion and power distribution in private and public organizations. The ‘glass ceiling’ effect is a specific type of discrimination that effect the higher echelons more than the lower echelons, to be distinguished from general discrimination operating at all levels and the specific pattern of discrimination concentrated at the bottom... known as the ‘sticky floor effect’... which prevents women and minorities from entering managerial hierarchies. Catalyst (1996) talked about six major factors that perpetuate glass ceiling and other areas, i.e., lack of bold leadership, workplace environment, work experience, family obligations, socialization and education. Women are often perceived to lack the leadership skills of a manager. Despite the gains women have made, negative attitudes and stereotypes of women as managers (higher level) prevail. This barrier creates stressful situation which adversely affects her commitment towards job which is an organizational variable (Ryan, Haslem & Postmes, 2007). Commitment, a key ingradient, in human resource management is defined as a relative strength of an individual’s identification with and involvement in an organization (Mowday, Porter & Steers, 1982). In 1990, Allen & Meyer conceptualized three-dimensional construct of organizational commitment, i.e., affective, continuance/calculative and normative. The affective component of organizational commitment refers to employee’s emotional attachment to, identification with and involvement in the organisation. The

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continuance/calculative component refers to commitment based on costs that the employee associates with leaving the organisation. The normative component refers to the employee’s feelings of obligation to remain with the organization. The current rule of thumb in organization is, the higher up on organisation’s hierarchy, the fewer the women. Organisational commitment is found to be highly correlated to women than men. Grusky (1966) proposed that women are more committed to an organization because they had to overcome more barriers than men to gain membership. But in the current era, we come across various incidents of sexual discrimination at workplace, at home and social circles. These situations of gender discrimination are popularly referred to as ‘Glass Ceiling Effect.’ This invisible barrier affects working women the most as it diminishes their chance of advancement and their promotion at higher levels. Consequently, it slows down their interest and identification in the job, i.e., their organizational commitment. In the present study, the ‘Glass Ceiling’ construct has been operationized in terms of females perception of gender discrimination in their work set-up in terms of their employment opportunities, salary structure, training and promotion facilities etc. (Willington 1996). They have been categorized in two categories, i.e., high glass ceiling perceivers (having high perception of sexbiased attitude towards their job) and low glass ceiling perceivers (having low perception of gender discrimination at their work set-up. Discrimination may be less visible in today’s workplace, but subtle forms of discrimination occur at every level. Where they occur consistently,

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they create patterns of exclusion. This negative perception of ceiling has a debilitating impact upon the well being of a person. The perceived glass ceiling is not free from ill-effects on health. Health, in laymen term, is a notion of well-being. WHO (1948) defined well being as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Wellbeing is a multidimensional construct and the commonly proposed tri-partite structure of well-being is in light of life satisfaction, positive affect and negative affect (Diener, Suh, Lucas & Smith, 1999). It is affected by work environment. A male or female boss gender related attitudes about woman as managers can have an effect on the mentoring and support for advancement they provide to women subordinates. Females in the management positions may not be viewed favourably by males, who comprise the bulk of higher-level positions. Interviews with female executives revealed that male executives were not comfortable being supervised by their women boss (Catalyst, 1996; Tharenou, 1991). Despite research showing men and women perform equivalently in leadership roles, male senior leaders often perceive that women are not as effective as men in case of adverse circumstances, as deficient in problem solving skills (Catalyst, 2005). Such gender biased perception of males lowers down the well-being of females and consequently responsible for their lack of interest and commitment in the organization. As far as the empirical work in relation to ‘glass ceiling’ is concerned, it is abundant in relation to wage and salary structure, training and promotions; but there is a dearth of empirical evidence which reports the

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direct relationship between the glass ceiling, organizational commitment and wellbeing in female employees. It is because of the ‘Breaking up of Glass ceiling myth’ labelled as ‘Shattering the Glass Ceiling phenomena (Lanzen 2002). Taking this into view that whether ‘Glass Ceiling’ is a reality or a myth or their false perception or ground reality of a traditional patriarchal society, is a big question mark and needs to be pondered over. Taking this perspective into mind, the present research aimed to study and make a comparative analysis of glass ceiling perceives and non-perceivers in relation to organizational commitment and well-being.

Hypotheses :
Following hypotheses were formulated and tested in the present study : (1) There would be significant difference between the high and low glass ceiling perceivers. (2) There would be significant difference in the organizational commitment (normative, affective and continuance) and well being of high glass ceiling perceivers and low glass ceiling perceivers.

Method
Sample The sample for the present study consisted of 350 female executives, working at middle level of management, having atleast five years of managerial experience belonging to an age group of 35-40 years. The

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sample was selected from various multinational companies (MNCs) of Gurgaon and Faridabad. Design A two independent group design was used. One group (n=100) was of high glass ceiling perceivers or those who could not cross the barrier and the second group (n=100) was of those women who crossed the barrier (low glass ceiling perceivers). Tools The following tools were used :(1) Glass Ceiling Questionnaire : It was self-construed, having 16 forced-choice items. The items were taken on the basis of different parameters, i.e., equal employment opportunities, assigning challenging tasks, appropriate job openings at higher levels, decision making etc. The higher the score, the lower is the glass ceiling and lower the score, the higher is the glass ceiling. (2) Organisational Commitment Scale (Allen & Meyer, 1990) : This scale has 24 items designed to measure the three dimensions of organizational commitment, i.e., normative, affective and

continuance. Each dimension is assessed on eight statements presented in a seven-point Likert scale response format. It has high reliability and validity.

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(3)

PGI General Well being Scale (Verma & Verma, 1989) : It measures the general well-being of a person. The higher the score, the higher is the well-being. It has a high, i.e., 0.91 test-retest reliability and 0.98 KR-20 reliability.

Procedure : The participants of the study were personally contacted. After rapport establishment, they were briefed regarding the nature and objectives of study. All the tests were individually administered on each subject. They were assured that their responses would be kept confidential. In the measurement of glass ceiling, the following method was adopted : The research study had a total sample of 350 female executives from various MNCs. Out of 350 females, 100 were categorized as ‘high glass ceiling perceivers (based upon the median score)’ and 100 as ‘low glass ceiling perceivers.’ Rest 200 were identified as Mixed Glass Ceiling perceivers after data collection, the scoring was done as per the manual’s guidelines.

Results and Discussion
The objective of the present study was to assess and compare the organizational commitment and well being of high glass ceiling and low glass ceiling perceivers. Table No. 1 shows the descriptive statistics of 200 female executives perceived as high glass ceiling perceivers (H.G.C.P.) and low glass ceiling perceivers (L.G.C.P.). The obtained mean ( X ) and SD (σ ) values of

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high glass ceiling perceivers was 9.81 and 5.13 respectively while the respective
X

and σ in case of low glass ceiling perceivers was 13.75 and

1.46. The obtained values clearly showed that low glass ceiling perceivers had less problems because of low perceived gender discrimination in their work set-up (as the scoring shows that the higher the scores, the low is the prevalence of glass ceiling in an organization). Their t-value comes 6.92, which is significant at .01 level. The obtained results supported the first hypothesis. The above findings are in the line of findings of Eagly & Karan (2002) who talked about the principle of ‘role incongruity’ present in the perceiver’s mind. If an individual has a prejudice towards sex (i.e. women), is going to be turn out as a ‘glass ceiling sufferer’ rather than a ‘glass escalator’ (Liff & Ward, 2001). Even traditional views also do not regard women as less good than men in an overall evaluation (Eagly & Klonsky, 1992). Another proposed hypothesis was that there would be significant difference in normative, affective and continuance commitment and well being of high glass ceiling and low glass ceiling perceivers. Table No. 2 shows the obtained
X

and SD values of normative,

affective and continuance commitment of high glass ceiling perceivers, i.e. 13.99, 13.99 and 13.50 respectively. With their respective SD as 4.56, 4.26 and 4.41. But in case of low glass ceiling perceivers their respective
X

and

SD were 46.48, 44.85 and 45.41 for mean values and 3.00, 3.31 and 3.05 respectively as SD values. There is a dearth of empirical evidence, which report the direct relationship between organizational commitment and glass

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ceiling. But there are number of theoretical studies (Hadden, 2000; Fiornia, 2002) on ‘Shattering the glass ceiling’ that indirectly report about certain strategies to enhance organizational commitment of employees by breaking the transparent barrier in a work place which hinders them to reach at top level. In case of well being, the obtained
X

and SD of high glass ceiling

perceivers were 5.4 and 2.01 respectively followed by 19.98 and 2.74 as respective
X

and SD of low glass ceiling perceivers. The results clearly

showed that the higher the score, the higher would be the well-being. Shek (1992) studied Chinese females and found that the quality of existence and purpose in life as great contributors to psychological well-being. Tannen (1994) reported that well known negative epithets like ‘dragon lady’ and ‘battle axe’ applied to any powerful woman in work set-up lowers down their psychological well being. The above findings clearly reveal that females have to face lot of problems professionally and personally due to the genderdiscrimination. Females have been trendsetters in various avenues such as industry, hospitals, schools, colleges, corporate world etc. But this present study has clearly exhibited that there is a dire need of providing conducive and congenial climate to female employees in their work set-up which is free from gender discrimination. The need of an hour is to melt this ‘Glass Ceiling’ and shatter this barrier to reach at great heights of success.

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References
Allen, N.J. and Meyer, J.P. (1990). Organisational Commitment: Towards a three components model. (Research Bulletin No. 660). London, Ontario, Canada: Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario. Allen, N.J. and Meyer, J.P. (1990). The measurement and antecedents of affective, continuance and normative commitment to the

organisation. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 63, 1-18. Catalyst (1996). Women in Corporate leadership : Progress and Prospects. New York: Jossey-Bass. Catalyst (2005). Women “take care” men “take charge”. Stereotyping of U.S. business leaders exposed: The Catalyst Guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Cox, T.H. and Harquail, P. (1991). Effects of ethic group cultural difference on cooperative versus competitive behaviour in a group task. Academy of Management Journal, 34, 827-847. Dienner, E., Suh, E.M., Lucas, R.E. and Smith, H.L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276-302. Eagly, A.H. and Karan, S.J. (2002). Gender and the effectiveness of leaders: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 125-143.

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Eagly, A.H. and Klousky, B.G. (1992). Gender and the evaluation of leaders: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 111, 3-22. Grusky, D. (1966). Career mobility and organizational commitment. Administrative Science Quarterly, 10, 488-503. Hymomitz, C. and Schellhardt, T. (1986). The Glass Ceiling. The Wall Street Journal, 10, 15-21. Lauzen, Z. (2002). Women at Top Position. British Journal of Health Psychology, 6, 121-134. Liff, S. and Ward, K. (2001). Distorted views through the glass ceiling: The construction of women’s understandings of promotion and senior management positions. Gender, Work and Organization, 8, 19-36. Mowday, R., Porter, L. and Steers, R. (1982). Employee organizational linkages. New York: Academic Press. Ryan, A.M., Haslam, P. and Postures, R.E. (2007). Applicants perceptions of selection procedures and decisions: A critical review and agenda for the future. Journal of Management, 26, 565-606. Shek, S. (1992). The changing nature of women’s career. Journal of Management, 25, 457-484. Strober, L.K. (1982). All the right stuff: A comparison of female and male managers career progression. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 251-260.

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Tannen, D. (1994). Talking from 9 to 5: Women and men in the workplace. Management Review, 1, 111-132. Tharenou, P. (1999). Gender differences in advancing to the top. International Journal of Management, 11, 12-15. Verma, S.K. and Verma, A. (1989). PGI General Well-Being Measure. Lucknow: Ankur Psychological Agency. Wellington, S.W. (1996). Women in Corporate Leadership: Progress and Prospects. New York: Catalyst. Wood, S., Corcoran, J. and Courant, L. (1993). Approaches to the study of redundancy. Journal of Industrial Relations, 8, 19-27.

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Table No.1 Mean, Standard Deviation and t-value of High Glass Ceiling and Low Glass Ceiling perceivers Respondents High Glass Ceiling Perceivers Low Glass Ceiling Perceivers N 100 100 Mean 9.81 13.75 Median 10 14 SD 5.13 6.92** 1.46 t-value

** p < 0.01

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Table No. 2 Mean, Standard deviation and t-value of high glass ceiling perceivers (HGCP) and low glass ceiling perceivers (LGCP) in relation to organisational commitment (Normative, Affective and Continuance) and well-being. Variable Normative commitment Affective commitment Continuance commitment Well Being HGCP LGCP HGCP LGCP HGCP LGCP HGCP LGCP Mean 13.99 46.48 13.99 44.85 13.50 45.41 5.4 19.98 ** p<0.01 MD 15 48 15 45 12.5 46 6 20 SD 4.56 3 4.26 3.31 4.41 3.05 2.01 2.74 t 59.07**

57.15**

60.21**

42.88