Gender Discrimination has a new metaphor: the labyrinth

Glass ceiling may be shattered, but women still face obstacles on path to leadership

WHEN: Thursday, June 18, 2009

WHAT: Program on “The truth about how women become leaders” Presented by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Assoc.; hosted by Olin Business School

WHO: Linda L. Carli, co-author of Through the Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders.

WHERE: Charles F. Knight Center, Washington University in St. Louis, Forrest Park Parkway and Troop Drive.


The glass ceiling has shattered. Although men continue to have greater access to the most powerful positions than women do, there are more female leaders than ever before. Conditions have changed, and a new metaphor is needed to describe women’s leadership. Women do not encounter a single absolute barrier at a specific high level. Instead, they face a complex set of obstacles that form a challenging labyrinth. But the labyrinth can be negotiated successfully. What are the obstacles in the labyrinth and how can women overcome them? How do organizations benefit from having women at the top and how can organizations increase their numbers of women leaders? And what does the future hold for women’s leadership opportunities?

Linda Carli is a social psychologist and faculty member at Wellesley College. An authority on gender discrimination and the challenges faced by professional women, she is the author (with Alice Eagly) of Through the Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders (Harvard Business School Press, 2007), published in conjunction with the Center for Public Leadership of the Kennedy School of Government. The book received the 2008 Distinguished Publication Award from the Association of Women in Psychology; an article based on the book received a McKinsey Award as the second most significant article published in the Harvard Business Review in 2007. In 2001, she co-edited (with Eagly) a volume of the Journal of Social Issues that focused on women leaders. Her research on the effects of gender on women’s leadership, group interaction, communication, influence, and reactions to adversity, has resulted in more than 75 scholarly articles, book chapters, and presentations.

Dr. Carli holds a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She was a faculty member at the College of the Holy Cross and Mount Holyoke College before joining Wellesley, where she teaches courses in organizational and applied psychology. She is active in professional organizations in psychology and management and serves on the Executive Board of the Society for the Women of Psychology. She has developed and conducted diversity training workshops and negotiation and conflict resolution workshops for women leaders and has lectured widely on gender and diversity for business, academic, and other organizations.