The Glass ceiling is a term for a common pattern of women's progress in career paths, that women are found clustered at the lower levels of the path even though there is no formal barrier preventing their promotion to higher levels (hence, the glass ceiling, the one that you don't see until you bang your head on it).
Issues that have been identified in career paths that contribute to a lack of seniority on the part of women:
- recent entry of women into that career
- expectations of long work hours for seniority conflicting with motherhood, caring or social obligations of women (even for women that are child-free or asexual since it is a touchy political subject and may not be even openly talked about, merely assumed)
- high value being placed on assertive, domineering social styles for leadership positions together with social dislike of women with those traits
- unstated expectations of male-associated hobbies (golf, for example) and out-of-work networking
- women not being aware that many career opportunities require requests and negotiation, or not being trained to request advantage for herself (see Women Don't Ask)
Issues for women in geek careers include:
- the high value placed on self-education, which is more possible for young single people (at least, wealthier ones) like high schoolers and undergraduates than for women entering the career late (even as late as university)
- an even greater tendency to reward assertive and domineering social styles than many other communities
- even notionally entry level jobs or courses can require some years of self-education such as Open Source programming
- Open Source projects are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, which introduces subjectivity into an evaluation process that should be more objective (school GPA is no longer placed in high importance in the IT world)
- the high value placed on having career-related or at least geeky hobbies
- networking opportunities like technical conferences are time-consuming and expensive (even compared with golf)
- persistent visible discrimination and harassment causes women to seek other equally intellectually challenging careers with less anti-women sentiment and behaviour than some geek careers
- women with high GPAs at school find it difficult to assert their position at the top of the class when it comes to co-op programs.