What Does the Phrase “glass Escalator” Mean in Sociology?

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The “glass escalator” refers to a trend in some female-dominated professions wherein men enter those professions and ride up past women, receiving promotions at quicker rates than women in those professions. Sociologists view this as an additional obstacle for women in the workplace, who already have had to deal with the “glass ceiling,” a phenomenon in male-dominated professions keeping women from reaching the same rates of promotion and even pay rates as their male counterparts.

According to the New York Times, about a third of the job growth for men between 2000 and 2010 came from entering professions traditionally dominated by women, such as nursing and teaching, to find career stability and give themselves more time to be with their families. When those men enter these professions, they typically experience higher rates of promotion. According to Forbes magazine, men in female-dominated professions fare even better than men in male-dominated careers, with a higher rate of promotion, more pay and higher places inside organizations. As with the glass ceiling, sociologists associate the glass escalator with those interruptions that often take place in careers for women, such as maternity leave or taking time to take care of elderly parents. Stereotypes about effective male leadership also play a role.