The Glass Ceiling

January 27, 2015

This is my favorite photo from the Dhaka Apparel Summit – me and 11 men talking about financing factory repairs in the garment sector in Bangladesh. Other panelists were heads of leading Bangladeshi banks, representatives of the International Finance Corporation, and the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety

It’s typical at conferences on fashion and the apparel industry to hear a lot about how the sector is empowering millions of women and lifting them out of extreme poverty. That’s true. But a picture like this one illustrates that there’s a ceiling on those gains – women make up the majority of the lowest ranking workers on a factory floor, but are less likely than men to advance into management and have even fewer chances to be owners, financiers, and policymakers. 

To be sure, there are notable exceptions. Rubana Huq is the managing director of Mohammadi Group and has been a progressive voice on the responsibility of larger manufacturers for small factories. Her op-ed on the economics of a $6.75 shirt in the Wall Street Journal is well worth reading. 

The garment industry has been a boon for women around the world. But we have much further to go to ensure that women can move up the ranks and into positions at the top of the industry.


See all