The Glass Ceiling and the Sticky Floor

As women around the world make continuous efforts to break through the glass ceiling, there are additional barriers women may face within each country. Here, we dive a little deeper into the “sticky floor” that Japanese women face in their careers.

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The phenomenon called the “Glass Ceiling” describes the utter resistance of women’s efforts in reaching high-ranking, management positions in top corporations. According to a study that looked into the glass ceiling effect in Sri Lanka, women’s career development have been misrepresented in the workforce due to many factors. There are individual, family, organizational, and cultural factors that play a negative connotation in women’s growth in executive level positions. This states the importance that a woman’s identity and cultural norms affect their growth in achieving higher positions in a hierarchical society. 

Photo by  João Jesus

Photo by João Jesus


However, this phenomenon exists around the world in which many women have experienced this kind of environment in the workforce. The “sticky floor” phenomena is vastly prevalent in Japan’s labor market — the idea is that women here are stuck in low-paying, low-mobility jobs. The sticky floor puts women at the bottom 10th percentile in terms of wage structure distribution.

According to the article,“Explaining the persistence of the gender wage gap in Japan: The glass ceiling effect and sticky floor,” human resource management system is a major factor on the gender wage gap in Japan promoting productivity and participation in the workforce to increase economic performance. Men are more likely to receive career-track job positions and specific skill training, conversely female workers tend to be segregated into low-paying, non-career-track jobs leading to a lack of higher-value and firm-specific skills. Therefore, this gender wage segregation leaves fewer opportunities for women and having low paying jobs that reinforces the sticky floor phenomena. 


During a Gender Studies course at my university, I have enhanced my knowledge in gender equity and terminology such as the glass ceiling effect and sticky floor phenomena. And as a woman pursing a career in the business field, I have personally witnessed and experienced gender inequality in the workforce. However, I have learned to become a leader and empower more women to reach their goals without the fear of a glass ceiling effect or sticky floor.

Empowering women to become their own “boss” would lead to having more women in top-level positions. For instance, Startup Lady first began with the creativity and collaboration of women in the business field empowering other women to break the glass ceiling. To learn more about how you can make a difference in yourself or a fellow female, explore our the Startup Lady website for more information.


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About the Author

Lucero is an undergraduate student studying Communications at the University of California, Davis. Through her work as an Operations and Event Planning Intern at Startup Lady, she has learned a lot and enjoyed her time with amazing entrepreneurial women. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, listening to music, traveling, and meeting new people!