Looking Through the Glass Ceiling: Social and Individual Influences on Women’s Career Decisions

Faculty Sponsor

Lissa Yogan


Arts and Sciences



Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-4-2017


Presently, the research regarding the social and personal motivations behind women’s self-limiting decisions has been minimal. Our work discusses how women are still underrepresented in the upper echelons of organizations, and although inequality does partially explain the gender disparities, this explanation leaves women with little ability to impact the course of future change, and ignores the choices women make to leave, or not advance, in the workforce. Social pressure for women to lead and succeed in so many different roles has created more self-limiting behaviors as women choose to simplify. The question we are attempting to answer is why we still have the glass ceiling; if the explanation is social pressure and unfair gender environments, then it may support large-scale trends. If it is individual choice, then gender inequality may not be the driving factor. It is possible that this research might reveal a decline in social pressure to minimize career advancement. By surveying women to study a relationship between career beliefs and self-efficacy, we will then attempt to show that the statistical disparity between women and men holding high-level career positions may be less about gender inequality than originally hypothesized. Therefore, this research aims at uncovering whether internalized stereotypes and expectations influence women’s self-limiting behaviors more than the lack of opportunities to advance.

Keywords: gender, career, women, self-limitation, goals, social influences

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Megan Gilliam is a junior at Valparaiso University, majoring in English and sociology/criminology with a minor in psychology. She has always been passionate about social justice, and after taking VU’s sociology course “Systems of Social Stratification,” she began to focus primarily on gender studies. Upon graduation, Megan intends to pursue a PhD in sociology with a focus in social stratification.

Lauren Patzer is a junior at Valparaiso University majoring in mathematics with a minor in applied statistics. She has always had an interest numbers and statistical analysis, and hopes to go into data analysis after graduation.

Jessica Luth is a junior, non-traditional student at Valparaiso University majoring in sociology/criminology. She has spent years working in social services and is looking forward to working towards her master's degree in therapeutic counseling and eventually working with at-risk teens.

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