1 Metaphors are words that give visual pictures of ideas and make the ideas easier to understand. Read the following list of metaphors about the workplace and their definitions. Discuss any words that you don’t understand with other classmates. Check a dictionary if necessary’.

a Glass ceiling: The glass ceiling is the invisible barrier that women often "hit” as they try to get promoted to higher positions within a company.

b Glass escalator: The glass escalator is the invisible machine that seems to promote men to higher positions.

c Sticky floor: The sticky floor is the force that seems to hold women back in less important and lower paid positions.

d Old boys’ club: This refers to the all-male groups that men form and the connections they make with each other to help themselves gain power and success, e Mommy Track: People often think that working women with children are not serious about their jobs. They say that these women are on the “Mommy Track." That is, they are not on the road – or "track” – that leads to higher positions, f Level playing field: The level playing field is like a sports field in which all the players are on the same level and have the same chance to win. Having a level playing field means that no one group has more opportunity to succeed than any other group.

Match each of the following situations with one of the metaphors in step 1. Write the letter of the metaphor next to the situation.

1 A woman talking to her friend about her boss:

"Since my babv was born, my boss looks at me strangely every time I get sick and take a day off. I’m sure he thinks that I just want to stay home with my baby.”

___ 2 A sales manager talking to another sales manager who was just hired:

"Don’t worry, Sam, we’ll help you with your new position. What about getting together with some of the guvs after work tonight?"

3 A company director talking to a personnel manager:

“We need to hire a new’ office assistant. Be sure to tell the people you interview that all employees are encouraged to apply when higher positions become available.”

4 Two employees talking about a third employee:

"He’s gone from sales clerk to assistant manager to manager in eighteen months. That’s a record!”

___ 5 An excerpt from a business report:

"There are about fifty female Executive Vice Presidents in the largest companies, but only two female Chief Executive Officers.”

___ 6 A woman talking to her friend:

“Even though I have good skills, everywhere I go, I seem to get offered the lowest paid positions.”


Discuss the following questions in a small group.

1 Do you think that the metaphors listed in step 1 give an accurate picture of the problems that w’omen face in the workplace?

2 Can you give any examples of these metaphors from your own experience?

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