Reading Report: Gender and the Glass Ceiling (Purcell, et al.)

1. What is the gist of the reading or set of readings?

The gist of the reading is that there are structural barriers to the women’s progress. The women can only see elite position but cannot reach this position because of structural barriers and inequalities. The paper argues that the main reason why women have not been able to make past the glass ceiling is that people often focus on the causal mechanism as opposed to the outcomes. There is greater need to focus on how these barriers functions as to remove them and not the outcomes. Purcell et al, (2010, pp. 705–717) argues that there are gender disparities that can only be addressed through formulation of social policies and reforms.

2. How do these new ideas fit into our larger understanding?

The larger understanding is that women are the weaker sex. However, this new understanding highlights the factors that contribute to their weaknesses. For example, social and gender inequalities, organizational changes, gendered bias, dissemination and segregation, as well as gender stereotypes are some of the key issues associated with the women’s inability to hit the glass ceiling. The new thinking brings to focus the root causes of the gender inequality and addresses the structural changes that must be addressed for women to close the achievement gap between men and women
3. What is your reaction/opinion to the main ideas?

I find the main ideas articulated well considering the fact that gender stereotyping and bias are the main impediment to women’s progress. However, I find it hard unconvincing that the Purcell et al, (2010, pp. 705–717) has not offered a balanced and objective analysis because women are their own worst enemies. Many women are in positions of power but do not considered elevated their fellow women. Purcell et al, (2010, pp. 705–717), talks about homophily amongst men, cant women emulate the same. I also find it uninspiring that all the time women are considered as weaker sex despite many attempts to make them equal to men. I think women need to struggle just like men to get education, promotion, and break the glass ceiling instead of getting it on silver Plata.

Discussion point

Homophily is considered as the love of the same. However, I think women have to refocus on the basis of their homophily. Instead of focusing on the status homophily, women should focus on value homophily to elevate their fellow women but supporting them and improving their value. There are gender and inequality discourses going on, but are women ready to exploit the opportunities presented by the outcomes of the discourses. Recommended structural changes may be implemented but women must strategies on how to elevate their fellow women at work and up the organizational or corporate ladder


Purcell D, MacArthur R, &, Samblanet S, (2010). Gender and the Glass Ceiling at Work. Sociology Compass 4/9: 705–717, 10.1111/j.1751-9020.2010.00304.x


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