STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Women may be moving on to corporate boards and into chief executive offices, but a national study concludes that the glass ceiling is still firmly in place.
Women make up just 10 percent of senior managers in Fortune 500 companies, according to a Harvard Business Review article published this week, because barriers to promotion remain widespread.
Authors Debra Meyerson and Joyce Fletcher said the way to end workplace discrimination is to stop trying for a revolution.
Instead the women, who are both business professors, suggested a strategy of what they call ''small wins'' -- a series of incremental changes aimed at the subtle discriminatory forces.
''It's not the ceiling that's holding women back; it's the whole structure of the organizations in which we work: the foundation, the beams, the walls, the very air,'' said Ms. Meyerson, of Stanford University.
Specific changes could include scheduling longer job interviews to give job seekers a better chance to explain their strengths and abilities, or devising new ways to let employees get credit for ''invisible work'' -- tasks that are necessary but rarely noticed.
Ellen Hancock, president and chief executive of Exodus Communications, a leading Internet host for businesses, said ''there is a real problem when there are so few women running the top 500 companies in the U.S.''
She urged women ''to make sure that the corporate culture of their company supports them,'' adding: ''If not, they should move.''
A study published in November by Catalyst, a women's advocacy group, found that 11.9 percent of the 11,681 corporate officers in America's top 500 firms were women, up from 8.7 percent five years ago.
But the group also found that women are most likely to be in ''staff'' jobs such as human relations and public relations and not in ''line'' jobs. It is from line officer positions -- those who run the factories, head the sales staffs and supervise the accounting -- that promotions to senior management tend to come, the group said.
Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive Carly Fiorina, who garnered national attention when she was appointed in July, has said she believes ''competitive industries don't have any time for glass ceilings.''
Ms. Fiorina said that while some people said discouraging things to her, she didn't let them get her down. Her advice: ''Believe in yourself and invest in yourself and ignore the naysayers.''
Ms. Fletcher, a professor of management at Harvard's Simmons Graduate School of Management in Boston, argues that it takes more than personal confidence.
''Yes, the times are changing. Yes, Carly Fiorina made it through,'' she said. ''But when you look at the patterns you see that gender bias is still widespread.''
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