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It’s a glass screen, not ceiling


A burst of women began their careers in the late 1970s and 1980s. They are now the right age to assume corporate leadership. Are they being held back because of their decision making approach?

Gary Salton, head of R&D at used 'I Opt' technology to answer this question – 'I Opt' measures decision making methods and is used by major
firms in areas like leadership training and team building on a worldwide basis.

The question was whether decision patterns of men and women differ. If they did, it could explain the 'glass ceiling'. To test this, 1,729 executives were divided between vice presidents (VPs) and managers. Salton then compared males and females in each group. Statistical tests confirmed with 99.9% certainty that the two genders were exactly the same in their approach to issues.
"What this means," says Salton, "is that any glass ceiling is not due to decision making differences, there are none." The quality of the decision-making process is exactly the same—no better, no worse, Salton concludes.

What is probably happening is a screening process. Different decision skills are needed at different levels. VPs have to make decisions with fewer specifics and
more uncertainty.

Successful managers work with more specifics and have a shorter decision horizon. "Being a successful manager does not necessarily prepare you to be a successful VP," says Salton.

What to do? Salton says that you have to cover two bases. Show excellence in doing your current job. Then contribute to strategic decisions in a way that gets noticed. "This is difficult, but women are every bit as equipped as men to do it," Salton concludes.

Dr Salton has been analyzing information-processing
strategies since 1991. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology, an MBA and an MA in Economics. His complete study is available free in the research notes section of his home page at


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