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Abstract

In the spring of 2001, I was asked by the Federalist Society at Harvard Law School to debate Diana Furchtgott-Roth, chief of staff of the Council of Economic Advisers in the George NV. Bush Administration, on the question of whether there is a "glass ceiling" for women in the labor market. I was to argue in favor of the glass ceiling's existence, and she was to take the opposing view. As those who attended know, the discussion ranged broadly over widely varying terrain, including some questions that should be silly but apparently aren't-most memorably, whether it is "mommy track" behavior to give one's nanny or babysitter a cell phone number at which one can be reached while at work when one is away from one's desk-to serious academic disputes over the underlying explanations for women's present labor market position. This Essay, on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Harvard Women's Law Journal, attempts to summarize some of my views on the current state of the glass ceiling debate. An important threshold question concerns the definition of the "glass ceiling." Former Senator Robert Dole once remarked that "there are probably as many definitions of the glass ceiling as there are individuals affected by it. But I like the formulation he offered, and I shall adopt it here. The glass ceiling issue, according to Dole, ultimately "boils down to eliminating artificial barriers in the workplace which have served to block the advancement of qualified women." In other words, if barriers exist that "block the advancement of qualified women," then I shall say that a glass ceiling is present.

Date of Authorship for this Version

2002

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