Glass Ceilings in California City Governments


Glass Ceilings in California City Governments:

A Study of 100 California Cities



A Glass Ceiling is… 

“the unseen, yet unbreachable barrier that keeps […] women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements.”1

We define a glass ceiling as that barrier that occurs when female employees are unrepresented in the top 25% of an organization’s salaried positions.   

a glass ceiling looks like this…



182 full time employees.  grouped by salary.  The top 25% of salaried positions are occupied solely by male employees. 


Glass Ceilings Continue to be a Problem in California City Governments.  


How many cities in California have glass ceilings? 

100 cities were studied.  11 had glass ceilings. 

11% of the cities we studied had no women in the top 25% of highest salaried positions.


The Department of Labor stated in the Recommendations of the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission Final Report (1995), “The glass ceiling is not only an egregious denial of social justice that affects two-thirds of the population, but a serious economic problem that takes a huge financial toll on American business. Equity demands that we destroy the glass ceiling. Smart business demands it as well.”1  


The glass ceiling hurts both employers and employees, yet more than 20 years after the report from the Department of Labor, we still find it in California cities.  


Talent is distributed equally among women and men, yet our economy does not fully tap into the leadership skills offered by women–creating inefficiency that causes economic suffering for all.  Talent is left on the table because women are not placed in leadership positions.2

An imbalance of power leaves women vulnerable to exploitation and maltreatment including sexual harassment, discrimination, abuse, bullying, wage theft, and other forms of injustice.  


Thank you for reading our post!  We are working hard to learn more about gender equality in California’s cities.  Please check back to learn more about the distribution of female workers in California city governments. 




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