Home Blog “Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women in India Shatter Barriers amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic”

“Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women in India Shatter Barriers amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic”


Assistant Professor

Faculty of Law

Kalinga University




The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to societies worldwide, affecting various aspects of life, including the workforce and gender dynamics. In India, where gender inequality and the glass ceiling phenomenon have long been pervasive, the pandemic has presented a unique opportunity for women to break through barriers and shatter preconceived notions of their capabilities. This article examines the remarkable achievements and resilience of women in India, who have defied the odds and risen above challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The glass ceiling, a metaphorical barrier that limits women’s advancement in professional spheres, has hindered gender equality and hindered the full realization of women’s potential. In India, this phenomenon has been deeply entrenched, with systemic biases and cultural norms preventing women from reaching top leadership positions and impeding their career growth. However, the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for change, creating a space for women to challenge traditional gender roles and make significant strides in diverse fields.

This article aims to explore how women in India have shattered the glass ceiling amidst the COVID-19 pandemic across various domains. It will delve into the leadership and decision-making roles assumed by women during these challenging times, their contributions as healthcare and frontline workers, their entrepreneurial endeavors, and their pursuit of education and skill development. Additionally, it will discuss the crucial aspect of work-life balance and the support received from families, as well as the overcoming of socio-cultural norms and stereotypes.

By examining these aspects, we can gain valuable insights into the transformative power of the pandemic and identify opportunities for sustained progress towards gender equality in India. Through the lens of the extraordinary achievements of women in the face of adversity, we can inspire and empower others to challenge and dismantle the glass ceiling, fostering a more inclusive and equitable society for all.

The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon in India

Definition and Concept of the Glass Ceiling:

The glass ceiling refers to an invisible barrier that obstructs the advancement of women in their careers, preventing them from reaching top-level positions and leadership roles. It represents the societal and structural biases that limit women’s professional growth and perpetuate gender inequality. Despite their qualifications and abilities, women face systemic barriers that hinder their progress and restrict their access to opportunities for career development and promotion.

Factors Contributing to the Glass Ceiling in India:

Several factors contribute to the existence of the glass ceiling in India. Deep-rooted societal norms and cultural expectations place greater emphasis on traditional gender roles, limiting women’s roles to domestic responsibilities rather than leadership positions. Discrimination and bias based on gender persist in workplaces, hindering equal opportunities for women in recruitment, promotions, and pay scales. Lack of support systems, such as childcare facilities; further exacerbate the challenges faced by women in balancing work and family responsibilities.

Impact of the Glass Ceiling on Women’s Advancement:

The glass ceiling has far-reaching consequences for women’s advancement in India. It restricts their access to high-level positions, limiting their influence, power, and earning potential. The lack of female representation in leadership roles perpetuates gender stereotypes and undermines diversity and inclusion efforts. This not only hampers the individual aspirations and potential of women but also hinders overall economic growth and development.

Challenges Faced by Women in the Workplace during the COVID-19 Pandemic:

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges faced by women in the workplace. With increased remote work and lockdown measures, women have experienced a disproportionate burden of unpaid care work, as traditional gender roles and care giving responsibilities intensified. The lack of flexible work arrangements, limited access to resources, and the digital divide further marginalized women, particularly those from marginalized communities.

Women Shattering Barriers during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Leadership and Decision-Making:

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, women in India have showcased remarkable leadership and decision-making skills. Many female leaders, both in the public and private sectors, have demonstrated effective crisis management and decision-making, leading their organizations and communities through these challenging times.

Healthcare and Frontline Workers:

Women have played a pivotal role as healthcare and frontline workers during the pandemic. They have been at the forefront, tirelessly providing essential medical care, testing, and support services. Their dedication and commitment have been instrumental in saving lives and curbing the spread of the virus.

Entrepreneurship and Innovation:

The COVID-19 pandemic has witnessed a surge in women’s entrepreneurship and innovation in India. Women entrepreneurs have demonstrated resilience and adaptability by pivoting their businesses to cater to new demands and emerging needs.

Education and Skill Development:

Despite disruptions in education due to the pandemic, women in India have shown immense determination to continue their education and skill development. They have adapted to online learning platforms and leveraged digital resources to pursue their academic and professional goals.

Work-Life Balance and Family Support:

The pandemic has necessitated a reevaluation of work-life balance, with women taking on multiple roles simultaneously. Women in India have showcased their ability to manage household responsibilities, childcare, and remote work, often with limited resources and support.

Overcoming Socio-cultural Norms and Stereotypes:

Women in India have defied socio-cultural norms and stereotypes during the pandemic. They have challenged traditional gender roles and perceptions by excelling in male-dominated fields and breaking into non-traditional sectors. This shift has opened doors for women to explore diverse career paths and has created a more inclusive and egalitarian society.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity for women in India to shatter barriers and showcase their resilience, leadership, and capabilities across various domains. By highlighting these achievements, we can inspire further progress, advocate for gender equality, and create an environment that nurtures and supports the advancement of women in all spheres of life.

Conclusion and Suggestions

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a unique opportunity for women in India to break through the glass ceiling and shatter long-standing barriers. Women have demonstrated exceptional leadership, resilience, and innovation in various domains, including healthcare, entrepreneurship, education, and decision-making. They have challenged societal norms and stereotypes, showcasing their immense potential and contribution to society.

To sustain and build upon the progress made by women during the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations and the government must take proactive steps. This includes implementing policies that promote gender equality, such as affirmative action in leadership positions, ensuring equal pay for equal work, and providing support for work-life balance.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for women in India to break the glass ceiling, shatter barriers, and make significant strides in various domains. Their exceptional achievements and resilience have demonstrated the transformative power of women’s empowerment. By leveraging this momentum and implementing supportive policies and initiatives, we can create a more inclusive and equitable society that recognizes and harnesses the full potential of women. It is crucial that we continue to advocate for gender equality, challenge stereotypes, and provide the necessary support and opportunities for women to thrive in all aspects of life.



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