Nuria Calvo, María Bastida, Jacobo Feás | Glass ceiling for female managers. Analysis of new emerging barriers and

proposal of a gender-oriented Balanced Scorecard.


Research on gender stereotypes suggest that gender bias is an invisible barrier, preventing women from breaking into the highest levels of management in business organizations (Pichler, S.; Simpson, P.A. & Stroh, L.K., 2008). The glass ceiling effect in organizations (Morrison & Von Glinow, 1990) on the lack of women in senior management (Helfat, Harris & Wolfson, 2007) and the gender pay gap (Blau & Kahn, 2007) indicate that women are disproportionately underrepresented in top management and are paid less than men when they do reach the top (Kochan, 2007).
This paper advances the study of traditional barriers for women to access to top management vacancies, by investigating emerging organizational barriers related to firm´s culture, stereotyping or lack of senior leadership support. The theoretical implications of these results could be translated into relevant practical implications through the proposal of a gender oriented Balanced Scorecard, as supporting tool for managers.
We have focused our research on an international case of study. Two years ago, the Spanish Government instituted a new Department full dedicated to assure gender equity in the workplace and society in general. After these years, we have analyzed how traditional barriers (education, lack of technical abilities or need of children care) are losing relevance to explain the problem of glass ceiling for women managers in the Public Administration and the private sector. However, we found that affirmative action programs and policies focused on increasing women´s representation in top management do not have significant effect on women representation in private companies. The existence of new emerging barriers related to self-exclusion, the lack of international assignment or senior leadership support, are replacing traditional barriers to explain the glass ceiling effect.
The identification of these factors has permitted us to design a proposal of a gender- oriented Balanced Scorecard. From this approach, this tool would be able to support new organizational policies aimed to increase gender equality in senior management.  According to the resource-based view of the firm (Barney 1985,1991, Peteraf 1993), organizations should base their competitive advantage on the internal development of the resources and capacities of their own. Following this approach, female management competence can be considered an important opportunity cost for organizations. Adopting women-friendly policies can translate into a competitive advantage for organizations when there is a competitive market for talent, especially when the skills women bring to the workplace are valuable and difficult to imitate (Wooten, 2001).
Focused on this approach, this study offers evidences of some new organizational barriers for women´s management promotion, and proposes a gender-oriented Balanced Scorecard to support understanding of the causes of glass ceiling for high level decision makers.
Key words: glass ceiling, gender-oriented balanced scorecard, barriers for women managers.