Women in Higher Education & Glass Ceiling


Women in Higher Education & Glass Ceiling.



This research proposal includes the various ways that will help the researcher in finding the exact reason behind Glass Ceiling in higher education system. As glass ceiling is very common in higher education, the research in intended to find the basic reasons/rationale that lead to the deprivation of women in becoming head/chairperson of a higher education system. This research will also enlighten why females are subjected to discrimination despite possessing equal knowledge, skill and expertise; and also why men are preferred to them when it comes to holding a post or designation of higher authority or administration in higher education system. The entire research revolves around Glass Ceiling with the aim to find each and every minute reason behind such discrimination. 

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Women in our society are pivotal for its proper growth and development. Apart from household works and babysitting (conservative thoughts), they have gained equal importance like men in all the areas be it Science, Education, Management, Politics, Entertainment etc. but despite this, their contributions are not recognized to the level which they should be. Nowadays, they are educated, very confident, talented and oriented towards their career with their ambition. They have proved their multitasking ability.
When we consider women in higher education, we see that women are very less in number as compared to men. Despite possessing lot of teaching experience, required degrees, and qualifications, they are deprived of the top designation in higher education system. It is revealed by the existing data that glass ceiling is present in higher education. Women are underrepresented in senior-level positions, they are overrepresented in lower academic ranks and they are often given lower salaries despite possessing equal knowledge & qualifications like men. It is seen that most of the time, men are preferred to be the dean and department heads. Data collected by researchers and scholars on this topic exhibit that in higher education system, 57% female graduates are awarded a master degree and only 44% females are awarded a doctoral degree. On an average, a male teacher or professor earns $4400 more than his female counter part in two –year college program. Moreover, females earns $8350 less than their male counterpart in doctoral granting institutions where they possess a full professor status. Color, race and ethnicity also play a major role in glass ceiling at higher education level. In this research proposal, we will discuss the status of women in higher education and the level of disparity practiced. This topic has been chosen to find the gaps and loopholes in the education system and how it is affecting women in this field. This research proposal discusses the objective of the research, literature review which has been written after reading and analyzing related journals, research approaches which have been selected, various strategies, qualitative and quantitative methodologies used and the possible ethical issues which have come across while writing this research proposal.

Research Questions

The main topic of this research is to analyze the status of women in higher education. This will also deal with questions like:
?    Why are women deprived of top designations in higher education?
?    Why men are considered superior to women?
?    What are the key areas that need to be taken care of to counter the prevailing glass ceiling?


The main objective of this research is to find the loopholes in the higher education system which leads to the disparity in the status of women. The objectives, primarily, are as follows:
?    To understand the relationship between Glass Ceiling and Organizational Growth.
?    To understand the factors which result to Glass Ceiling.
?    To analyze the factors impacting the organization growth.
?    To come up with factors, that would help in reducing Glass Ceiling in higher education.

Literature Review 

This section exhibits a review of the literature that have been referred to for the research. This part of the research starts with a short historical overview regarding the challenges faced by women in higher education and the hindrances due to which women are deprived of advancing to top designations and posts. Demographic data associated with higher education will be highlighted in this section. The importance of women in higher education system, their leadership qualities and the meaning of glass ceiling will be explored in detail. Certain changes that have taken place in recent times have been delineated while concluding this literature review section. The term “Glass Ceiling”, for the first time was used in management literature which has also been used in higher education. The concept of ‘glass ceiling’ was discussed in the book “Negotiating the Glass Ceiling” by David and Woodward in 1998) to illustrate the status and condition of women in academia. The account of female professionals who were the members of a “Glass Ceiling Network” at British higher education institution was discussed in order to ascertain this particular term (Glass Ceiling) which was based on the experience which these women had regarding the factors, networking, etc. in their academic career advancement. It was also discussed how men specifically used these. 
Primarily, the establishment of higher education institutions were done by men thereby making them follow patriarchy. The processes, rules & regulations, working framework etc. showed male values which did not recognize the importance of women at all in higher education. These establishments are very tough and difficult to change and it will take quite a long time to give equal status to women and provide them equal opportunities. Right from the beginning, many challenges in higher education have been faced my women particularly in areas of opportunity and equality (Lee, 2002). In England, almost 74 percent of teachers are females i.e. they dominate men in teaching profession but when it comes to becoming the head/dean, the story is different; a higher percentage of men are designated at top positions and are the leaders in higher education than their female counterparts. The subjection of females in schools and other education institutions can be traced over centuries. According to the studies, it has been found that more than 25 percent of the gender gap is present in career development in higher education.  Universities are found to be less interested in appointing females as chair persons (Angel, 2002). Women are subjected to discrimination at the top scale i.e. they are not promoted to professorship. Toutkoushian and Conley in 2005 in their research found that despite accounting for a wide range of structural characteristics and human capital like rank, position, experience, field and institutional type, a gender gap of 4% to 6% in the salaries of the faculties still persists.  In case of research institutes, it is seen that women researchers are deprived of promotions to postdoctoral posts; also, study shows that women earn less than their male counterparts. A study by Chapman and Wagner (1986) reveals the fact that female admission officers were paid $1,000 to $3,000 less than men admission officers. Other studies by Stanley & Adams (1994) and Levy (1990) also shows the same conclusion.
Plethora of researches has been done to find the barriers that have stopped women to excel in higher education. The evidence of gender biasness can be seen in the study by Dominici, Fried and Zeger (2009), the study says that gender based disparity was widespread across higher education and the way to leadership were blocked for women. Despite improvement to counter glass ceiling, the rate of improvement is very low. Cotter et al. (2010) states that job inequality is created by glass ceilings which cannot be explained by an individual’s past qualifications and achievements. It was also noted by the authors that such discrimination was not based on job-related characteristics rather, it was based on gender difference. The academic knowledge and past experience of the females are neglected when it comes to glass ceiling; they are of the view that this is a reality that women can never achieve her highest professional aspirations like men, no matter how much of expertise and qualifications a women has. Despite attaining identical education, ambition and career orientation, men progress faster than their female counterpart (Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, 1995). Glass ceiling implies that gender biasness are seen more at the top hierarchies than at the lower levels, thus, the disadvantages start becoming more challenging as the career on an individual advances (Cotter et al. 2001). Glass ceiling has become a significant barrier in the progression of women and minorities in higher education (The federal glass ceiling commission, 1995). 
Enormous studies have been conducted in this regard to find out the reasons that are detrimental to women in higher education. For instance, Marongiu and Ekehammar (1999), in their study based on the influence of individual and situational factors on the career development of both the sex found that masculinity is positively related to advancement in management and this is also the major predictive factor. The rate of promotion of women from the post of assistant lecturers to professors remains very slow than that of males.  This research proposal has been made to analyze and address the gaps which have led to Glass Ceiling in higher education where women administrators or heads are very less in number. The review of the literature referred concludes that despite conducting many types of researches in this area, the basic or the fundamental reasons that have led to glass ceiling since ages have not been discussed and explored in detail yet. Majority of the researches are conducted to find the percentage of disparity between males & females in higher education, how women are subjected to discrimination in getting promotion or in becoming higher administrative authority in education system etc. but very minimal researches discuss the rationale/reasons behind this discrimination and they too are vague. This particular research proposal aims to address the glass ceiling prevailing in higher education and also helps in finding the probable reasons which leads to glass ceiling.  

Research meth


This part of the research will be dealing with the reasons why particular methodologies have been selected to conduct the research. The methods used in a research are the tools and techniques that are vital to develop the research. 
Research philosophies
Research philosophies are the development of the background of the research, nature of the research and the research knowledge (Saunders, 2011). It’s a framework consisting of perception, understanding and beliefs of various theories and practices which are used to conduct the research. Under this, a pre-determined procedure is followed by the researcher to establish a relationship between the objective of the research and the question (Cohen et al. 2000).
Below are the two approaches that have been considered for the research:

Quantitative Approach

This approach is used to find the quantity of problems, it uses numerical data which could later be transformed into useful statistics. Quantitative research helps in quantifying the behaviors and related variables that are significant for the research. Various modes of surveys like interviews, websites, polls, online survey, paper survey, systematic observations etc. are used in this approach. This approach allows the generalizations of the conclusion. It provides the effects as observed by the researcher during the research process (Newman, 2005). 
Apart from the above positives, quantitative approach also has some drawbacks in the form:
?    It has limited response options.
?    A lot of time is consumed to conduct the research and it has less in depth information. 
?    Information of all kinds are tough to ascertain.
?    The research methods are inflexible as the research instrument can’t be changed or modified once the research study begins. 
?    Sometimes, it results to lost information due to the reduction of data.

Qualitative Approach

Qualitative approach is used to understand the rationale, opinions and to gain the knowledge of the underlying reasons. It is exploratory in nature. This research approach enables the researcher to form ideas and hypotheses for the continuation of the research. This is a text based method describing a problem or situation from the point of view of those who are experiencing it or have experienced it earlier in their life. The findings of this particular approach can be considered valid and reliable as this includes the skills and rigor of the researcher involved (Miles and Hubeman, 1984). This approach uses methods like in-depth interviews, focus groups and it also reviews the documents that are mandatory for the continuation of the research and come out with correct findings. This method is less time consuming as compared to the quantitative approach.
Despite possessing some positives, this approach has also got some disadvantages, like:
?    This is a labor intensive approach and is quite expensive.
?    The classical researchers finds it difficult to understand the findings of this approach.
?    The scope is limited due to the comprehensive approach used.
?    This, at times also forms biasness in the researcher’s mind which becomes unavoidable.

Research Strategy and Research Technique

In research methodology, research strategy/research technique is the very next step. It determines the ways which the researcher follows to analyze and study the topic chosen by him. It also includes the objectives that emerge from the selected topic. A research technique is primarily of two types i.e. scientific technique and historical technique. These techniques play a key role in obtaining information about a particular subject. To discuss the topic of glass ceiling, the historical technique has been used in the form of case study. Below, the various research techniques as well as some strategies have been mentioned that have been used in the research:


Looking back in the history, we see that the presence of women have been limited or very scare as far as the academic administration is concerned at the higher level. Approximately, only 27% of all deanship was held by women and that also not for professional colleges. Around 8% and 3% of deanship of law schools and medical school respectively are held by women (Glazer & Raymo, 1999). Women chief academic officers very minimal in number in research and doctoral universities (Glazer & Raymo, 1999). Gender disparity is prevalent in the area of university governance. Despite spending long time in service than men, women are ignored and neglected in the decision making process or policy formulation process (Morley 1999; Twale and Shanon 1996).


A survey is defined as discussions with respondents over a particular topic. It may be a small paper-pencil feedback or an intensive in-depth interview. As far as a survey is considered to know ‘why’ of glass ceiling, the respondents will be chosen from higher education institutions because they will be the correct individuals to answer the related questions. The respondents will be of both the sexes, reason being; males will help in knowing why glass ceiling is practiced in higher education and what are the parameters on which men are preferred over females when it comes to holding top designations, females will be of more importance as they will help in telling the reasons why they are deprived of promotions in becoming head/chairperson of the higher education institutions. They will help the researcher in understanding the mindset of people and the reason why females are subjected to discrimination despite having the requisite knowledge, skill, experience and expertise 
Women from various higher education institutions will be interviewed so that the researcher might get ample source of derivatives and answers which women of different institutions will give (Sudman et al.). This will be helpful in a comparative analysis and coming to a conclusion considering each and every point as laid down by the respondents. Various retired and old teachers/professors will also be included in the survey in order to know the reason behind glass ceiling prevalent in their times 


Interview simply means asking questions directly to people. The responses which the interviewee give are noted down for further analysis to come to a conclusion. Interviews are less costly, time saving and gives ample and sufficient information to the researcher, the researcher can even select people as per the need and requirement of the research (Nyamathi and Shuler, 1990). 
To understand whether glass ceiling exist in the higher education, experienced women teachers and professors will be called for the interview in which the researcher will ask the glass ceiling related question to them. Their verdicts will be of utmost importance because they are the one who has seen glass ceiling very closely. Even male teachers and professors will also be called for the interview so that they can elaborate the reason behind the practice of glass ceiling in the higher education system. The interview of both males and females will give various details and information to understand the basics as well as the reasons of practicing glass ceiling in higher education. Since these teachers will be very experienced, they will give lot of examples and related information about glass ceiling which they have seen or suffered in their services. 
The limitations of interviews could be; it takes a lot of time i.e. it is time consuming, the researcher finds it quite hard to select appropriate candidates for the interview, there is also a possibility of interviewer’s biasness. These information will be vital to understand how, why, if etc. of glass ceiling prevalent in higher education system. 

Research Ethics

Research ethics are majorly associated with analyzing entire ethical dimensions which are witnessed while conducting the research. Research ethics specifically analyzes the ethical issues that the researcher comes across while conducting the research and also when people are invited to be a part of the research. Research ethics has basically three objectives, namely, to protect the participants, to make sure that the research is conducted for the interest and well-being of the society or group as a whole and finally, it examines the specific research activities and projects for the ethical soundness. 
 The research should be done with full dedication, honesty, sincerity and carefulness. The research integrity must be maintained in the whole research process (Miller et al., 2012). Sometimes, ethical dimensions conflict with each other in the research, it is the duty of the researcher to make ethical decisions and act in an ethical way. Considering all possible ethical values, the research should be done in order to ascertain the objective of the research. 
Gannt chart:


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