Exploring the Brown Glass Ceiling and Its Effects on Women of Pacific Island Descent in Aotearoa New Zealand
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Discrimination is a commonly shared experience for ethnic minority women in Aotearoa New Zealand and around the globe. This experience makes up one part of the effects of the metaphorical glass ceiling barrier that exposes a divisional line between prosperity and hardship. The barrier is referred to as “glass,” because it is invisible and impenetrable for those underneath it (Cotter et al., 2001). This qualitative research analysed narrative data from dialogues in primary research by Brown (2019); Mesui (2019); Ofe-Grant (2018); Tupou (2011). Data were collected in one on one, face-to-face interviews with respondents of Pacific Island descent who shared their work life experiences of the glass ceiling and offered their recommendations on what could eliminate barriers, obstacles, and discriminatory mind-sets. The analysis followed the guidance of intersectionality and social identity theories, that provided frameworks that stimulated thought about why these issues exist and how they form a glass ceiling. Intersectionality theory understands social relations by recognising forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, and ageism, and although the theory also addresses existing complexities within social systems, it is not a one-size-fits-all approach to tackling all forms of discrimination. The stigmatised traits of discrimination for Pacific women (e.g., Pacific, brown, female, and migrant) are where gender, race, and ethnicity intersect, but these traits are not the same for everyone and may exist at the same time or at different times in a person’s life. Social identity theory provided another approach to how a person’s perception is socially structured, either individually or for a group of people that share an association such as a culture, gender, or age group. Social identity theory asks how individuals identify themselves, what social group they belong to, and what comparisons exist outside their social group that create an us-versus-them division. Guided support systems such as mentoring, produce good results in terms of commitment and satisfaction that is equally beneficial to both men and women. As outlined by Dashper (2020), careers in the service industry face difficulties in the areas of motivation, retention, and commitment from employees. Mentoring can also address issues arising from a glass ceiling mindset as well as empowering women and enabling them to advance into positions of leadership (Dashper, 2019a). This study investigated the well documented glass ceiling theory and the effects of the glass ceiling on women of Pacific Island descent, to identify support structures that could assist Pacific women to break through the brown glass ceiling.