STATEWIDE- More women than ever hold leadership roles across all fields, but have we broken the glass ceiling?
While barriers women face are less apparent than they used to be, they still exist.
History was made the day Janet Mills took office as Maine’s first female governor.
She is among the women in Maine breaking the so-called glass ceiling.
“The glass ceiling, at least according to the U.S. Department of Labor is a set of unknown barriers that exist that will hinder particular groups of people from achieving different levels of employment.” explained Susan Gardner, the University of Maine’s Director of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies.
Despite the barriers, record numbers of women are leading their chosen professions.
“A problem that has gotten a lot of issues is implicit bias.” said Joan Ferrini-Mundy, the president of the University of Maine “That’s something we all have to pay attention to and there are all types of great training opportunities and ways to be attentive to that.”
Governor Mills said she encountered bias early in her career as she prosecuted a murder case.
“The headline was ‘The Prosecutor Wore Pale Powder Blue.’ she said. “You know, about the somber courtroom, the men in the courtroom, the defendant was a man, the attorney was a man, the police officers, the bailiff, and the judge were all men and it talks about what I was wearing.”
Gardner says these stereotypes can also lead to different expectations for women.
Elizabeth Sutherland is a partner at Sutherland Weston, one of the best known marketing firms in Bangor.
“When I was a young girl growing up in Maine, I felt there might be some limitations of what I could do based on my geography, gender, and age. What I have learned over the years is those things don’t matter and you can be truly successful in whatever field you want to be if you truly put your mind to it.”
NASA astronaut Jessica Meir grew up in Aroostook County and will be taking her first trip to the I.S.S. in September.
Meir says, while she didn’t see gender as a barrier in her profession, it has caused her to fall victim to stereotyping.
“I have had several times where I have showed up somewhere and had people have say ‘well you don’t look like an astronaut.'”
According to Gardner, gender pay gap is a perfect example of bias women face every time they look at their pay stub.
“It’s not that anyone can go around and say exactly because of ‘this’ the problem is happening. It s all these combined things.” Gardner said.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows women earn about $0.80 to every $1.00 men make.