Leadership / Management | Organizational Development | Training & CPE

Another crack in the glass ceiling

GlassThough the glass ceiling may continue to hinder some women as they climb their career ladders,  some rather large cracks are beginning to appear.

That's certainly welcome news to professionals like Tia Smallwood, who's the subject of a National Public Radio "StoryCorps" report titled "Living in the Backward World of the '60s."

Featured on "Morning Edition" for March 7, the program featured Smallwood telling her daughter, Christine, what it was like to be one of the only women to forge her way through the male-dominated accounting program at Rutgers University's Douglass College in the 1960s.

"This miserable old man -- I had him for second-year accounting and business law -- he said to me, 'You are the only woman who has gotten this far in my class, and I will make sure every day is a living hell for you,' " Smallwood says on the program. "... This was how backward the world was."

She goes on to describe one of her first job interviews out of college. The man who conducted the interview told her to stand up and turn around. Flabbergasted, she said she didn't understand, so the man repeated the request. She stood up and told him, "I don't need this job this much."

He hired her on the spot.

"That's the way it was," she said. "I think it's like that today, only it's much more subtle."

Smallwood also discusses the difficult decisions she faced as a working mother -- decisions that strike an eerily familiar chord today, when work-life balance is near the top of nearly everyone's list of priorities.

Smallwood's story will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. You can subscribe to the "StoryCorps" series of podcasts here.

What obstacles have you encountered on your climb up the career ladder?


Bill Sheridan