Women and visible minorities less likely to be promoted than white men, says study

September 10, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The glass ceiling may no longer be holding women down, but they still get trapped on the sticky floor and by the mid-level bottleneck.

Research from Alison Konrad, professor of Organizational Behaviour, Richard Ivey School of Business explores race and gender discrimination. A study with Margaret Yap, Associate Professor, Ted Roger’s School of Management found that at the highest level of the organization, women had an equal shot at moving up, but they have more difficulty getting promotions at lower and middle levels of the organization.

The glass ceiling at the top level still exists, but acts as a barrier to the promotion of visible minority men. The study of a large Canadian information and communications technology company examined the promotions of 22,338 non-unionized employees over five years.

Looking at employees in four categories, white men, white women, visible minority men, and visible minority women, the study controlled for other factors that might have affected the promotion decisions.

In mid- and lower-level jobs, the study showed a clear trend in favour of white men over their female counterparts.

The study was unique in identifying what the researchers termed the “mid-level bottleneck.” Here, half the employees hold a university degree and strive for upper management. At this level, the study indicated have a clear promotional advantage over women, visible minority women and visible minority men.

“We’re never going to change what happens at all levels until we create reward allocation and promotion system that value the different contributions and viewpoints of everyone,” says Konrad, who holds the Corus Entertainment Chair in Women in Management. “We have to look at those system structures and change them - if we’re going to finish the job.”

Explore further: Women, minorities more prone to filing grievances

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