Glass ceiling study: Women have less power than men named 'John'

Through an analysis of popular names vs. gender in leadership positions, The New York Times compiles a 'so sad it's almost funny' report on how real the glass ceiling is.

One figure that stood out to me when I read 'The Leadership Roles in America Where Women Are Outnumbered By Men Named John' in The New York TimesUpshot section: Men with the name 'John' are 3.3% of the population and women make up 50.8% of the population—but there are more men named 'John' as senators than there are women as senators. 


That’s just one of the conclusions drawn from a study of what the glass ceiling actually looks like. 

The same applies to Democratic governors: There are fewer women as Democratic governors than there are men named John who are also Democratic governors. 

It all comes from a New York Times study of the Glass Ceiling Index, which calculates both men and women in leadership positions from politics, law, business, and tech to academia, film and news media.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 28: A woman holds a placard aloft during a Slutwalk march for the right of women to wear what they want without harassment on May 28, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

More findings:

— Both CEOs and directors of the top-grossing films last year have the lowest rates of women in those positions. 

— There are less women as chief executives of Fortune 500 companies than there are men named 'James' as CEOs. 

— 10% of board members are women.

— All of these things are true despite the fact that women earn more college degrees than men.

— One of the primary reasons women are so outnumbered at the top? Discrimination. In the last three years, the numbers aren’t getting much better.

— And in some cases, worse, which is expected given the political powers that currently exist in our country. Here’s a handy graph from The New York Times about that very phenomenon.


The glass ceiling is real, and the data about it is, too. It’s about time we recognized that and made changes to our world to begin to fix it. 

And here's why even the phrase "Glass ceiling" might be misleading, from author Alice Eagly

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Is this why time speeds up as we age?

We take fewer mental pictures per second.

(MPH Photos/giphy/yShutterstock/Big Think)
Mind & Brain
  • Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
  • In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
  • The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
Keep reading Show less

Trauma in childhood leads to empathy in adulthood

It's not just a case of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Mind & Brain

  • A new study suggests children who endure trauma grow up to be adults with more empathy than others.
  • The effect is not universal, however. Only one kind of empathy was greatly effected.
  • The study may lead to further investigations into how people cope with trauma and lead to new ways to help victims bounce back.
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

Videos
  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.