Why do women in the workforce often find themselves stuck in middle management positions without the opportunity for advancement?
An FKD Feature exclusive

Women are severely underrepresented when it comes to CEO and elected positions. It’s not surprising, considering that women only control a mere 1 percent of the world’s wealth. Some discussions of this claim that the reason comes down to biology, figuring that women aren’t bold enough to hold positions of leadership. Interesting, since most men will sheepishly admit their wives are most definitely in charge.

How are women in management positions still lagging behind their male peers in 2017? Is it a result of American culture, or is it some other situation that’s left women behind? The fact of the matter is, the problem is not a result of underqualified of insufficiently educated women being unable to seize power. The problem stems from a lack of inclusivity, which will not be solved until all genders come together to create environments open to accept and embrace female leadership.

Why are women getting stuck in middle-management positions?

Career women who make it to middle-management positions often find themselves stuck there. Women often do not receive the acceleration and support needed to propel them into leadership positions like CEO or president. Additionally, women do not believe that they can achieve their goals. A study observed how women view themselves and found that only 39 percent of women surveyed believed they would meet their career goals, while 44 percent of men believed they would easily achieve their goals.

There are a series of extra hurdles women have to go through in order to be promoted. Attractive and thin women are more likely to get promotions than their heavier colleges. The cultural fixation on women’s body size is affecting how they advance in their careers and how much money they make. The judgments might be subconscious; a boss might not even realize that’s why they do not hire or promote someone, but it is a culturalized behavior that must change.

Luckily, a solution meant to stop the cycle of women getting trapped in the middle has emerged. IBM has created a system that helps workers to expand past middle-level jobs. The company has organized intensive leadership conferences that work to build women’s confidence and connections, giving them the tools to pursue the positions they want.

What are companies doing to solve this problem?

Certain companies also are working to become more female-friendly. For example, IBM has a female CEO, and 30 percent of its 41,000 employees are women. They work to create an equal opportunity environment for their employees. Johnson & Johnson also has a large percentage of female employees. This could be due to their Women’s Leadership Initiative, a program within the company that works to include women and advance their careers. The company also has an executive forum and mentorship program where women in the company who have advanced in the ranks mentor and give advice to other women looking to get promoted to leadership roles.


Women get stuck in middle-management; this is an ongoing problem. The lack of inclusivity in workplace environments and general cultural climate of discouragement work together to form the proverbial glass ceiling that prevents women from ascending to leadership positions.

However, it is comforting to know that some companies are working hard to provide an inclusive environment open to promoting their female employees and reducing the gap in success between men and women. Efforts for workplace equality need to be made by both sides. Men and women need to work together to create inclusive environments that give women the same potential for progression that men have always had.

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Header image: Adobe Stock


Posted 10.23.2017 - 11:00 am EDT