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Men Get Top Jobs in Traditionally Female Fields Because of Course They Do

You've heard of the glass ceiling. Meet the phenomenon of New Zealand men riding the "glass escalator."
May 9, 2017, 4:16am
Ashley Goodall

Stacey*, a high school teacher, has worked in four different schools. At each, she has noticed a trend: men rising up the ranks, despite the fact the vast majority of her colleagues have been women. "I didn't notice bias too much in the base-level of classroom teaching," she says, "but it does become obvious the more you get into the hierarchy of a school, even if the principal is female."

Ministry of Education figures back Stacey's claim. While 28 percent of management in education are men, they make up only 26 percent of the teaching workforce as a whole. And although there is an even gender-split among principals, this in itself is disproportionate as it doesn't account for the fact 74 percent of teachers are women.

One example stands out in Stacey's mind: a male colleague who wasn't liked among staff, but who was given a promotion over her on the basis of his years of experience. Neither Stacey not her female colleagues had amassed the same length of service because they had taken time off to have children.

"So many of my female colleagues juggled family responsibilities and work responsibilities, and wouldn't get promoted because they were perceived to be lacking commitment," she says. "I'm not saying men don't have responsibilities, but I think more should be done to acknowledge women's varying roles."

While the "glass ceiling" describes the patriarchal structures blocking women's rise to senior positions in the workplace, the "glass escalator" phenomenon describes the rapid—and disproportionate—promotion of men in female-dominated occupations.

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