Yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle has an article on the oft-mentioned “glass ceiling” that holds women back from advancing in their careers.
The article chronicles the story of two very successful women general managers whose career paths (with two different companies) converge in San Francisco. They both, indeed, are success stories and role models for others – men and women – but the questions raised in the report and the answers offered fall short at many levels.
Well into the sixties, the hotel industry was no different from any other in being male-dominated. However, like many others, the industry, in large part, does nothing remotely close to excluding women from advancement and examples abound of successful women not just at the general manager level but at the very top of the executive suite – Marilyn Carlson being a notable example.
Like other ostensibly natural career fits for women such as nursing, the hotel industry is demanding -requiring considerable time away from the family. Arguably, many women choose not to make that sacrifice as family priorities increase, leaving the grind to men. Single parents quite evidently will find themselves without that option but those (unfortunately few) success stories are worthy of unbridled adulation. This does not mean that there aren’t barriers based on prejudice but any company, hotel or otherwise, that consciously follows an exclusionary policy will find itself at a material competitive disadvantage (not to speak of a major lawsuit on its hands).