Grass Ceiling

Grass Ceiling

Welcome to The World According to Words, a program brought to you by China Radio International. I’m your host Liu Yan.

The phrase I’m going to introduce to you today is — grass ceiling. Its definition goes like this:

(clip, grass ceiling)

Grass ceiling noun

T he discriminatory barriers that prevent or discourage women from moving up the corporate ladder because of their inability to play golf.

«Grass ceiling» is an obvious play on the much more well-known phrase «glass ceiling». The latter refers to the intangible barrier that keeps women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements. It is «glass» because it’s not a visible barrier, and a woman may not be aware of its existence until she «hits» the barrier.

By extension, we can naturally draw the conclusion that «grass ceiling» got its name because golf is played on grass. Much like «glass ceiling», it is not an explicit practice.

«Grass ceiling» started popping up in the mainstream media as early as the 1990s. Here’s one typical example from the New York Times. In the article titled Lobbying for Equal Rights on the 18th Hole and Beyond. which was published on July 20, 1997, Melody Peterson writes,

(clip, Melody Peterson)

The women say the restrictions hurt their efforts to be equals in the business world. For example, while men can invite their business clients to play golf at almost any time, women cannot — a practice that has created a grass ceiling of sorts.

«Women have to be allowed to network,» Mrs. Goodson said, «and a golf course is big business.»

Now, the interesting thing is, although the term «grass ceiling» has been in existence for more than a decade and a half, it still remains relatively unknown today. Why is that? Is it because «glass ceiling» is too popular and therefore it’s difficult for a similar looking and sounding phrase to be as accepted? No one knows for sure. But with golf becoming a more common sport all around the world, it is increasingly important to acknowledge and address the «grass ceiling» problem.

So, does it all come down to sexism, or are there other factors involved? Do Chinese women have it better or worse? And what can be done to help women break through the grass ceiling? Two colleagues are joining me today in the studio for a bit more discussion, Ding Lulu and Marc Cavigli.

(Studio Discussion) *Note: The discussion part of the show has always been spontaneous, therefore no script is available. Thanks for your understanding.

Thank you very much, guys. What Lulu said about her female friends forwarding that post on weixin (WeChat) really stuck with me. It’s such a shame that in this day and age, some women still think it’s okay for men to say «you are my face, and therefore I’m buying you all these things.» Remember Chairman Mao’s famous proclamation «women hold up half the sky»? How about we all start with being independent?

At the same time, I fully agree with Marc that we need to reconsider some of the practices that have always been taken for granted. If women can have maternity leave but men cannot have paternity leave, does that mean the job of feeding and taking care of newborn babies should always fall on women? That’s certainly something to think about. Currently, some Chinese men do enjoy paid paternity leave. It could be 3 days, or 30 days. It all depends on where you work, and is not guaranteed by national law.

And with that, we conclude this edition of The World According to Words. Any comments or suggestions are welcome. You can reach me on Weibo. Just go to weibo.com/criliuyan and leave me a message. You can also get in touch by email. The address is words at cri dot com dot cn. I’m your host and program producer Liu Yan. Until next time, good-bye.

Welcome to The World According to Words, a program brought to you by China Radio International. I’m your host Liu Yan.

The phrase I’m going to introduce to you today is — grass ceiling. Its definition goes like this:

(clip, grass ceiling)

Grass ceiling noun

T he discriminatory barriers that prevent or discourage women from moving up the corporate ladder because of their inability to play golf.

«Grass ceiling» is an obvious play on the much more well-known phrase «glass ceiling». The latter refers to the intangible barrier that keeps women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements. It is «glass» because it’s not a visible barrier, and a woman may not be aware of its existence until she «hits» the barrier.

Grass Ceiling

By extension, we can naturally draw the conclusion that «grass ceiling» got its name because golf is played on grass. Much like «glass ceiling», it is not an explicit practice.

«Grass ceiling» started popping up in the mainstream media as early as the 1990s. Here’s one typical example from the New York Times. In the article titled Lobbying for Equal Rights on the 18th Hole and Beyond. which was published on July 20, 1997, Melody Peterson writes,

(clip, Melody Peterson)

The women say the restrictions hurt their efforts to be equals in the business world. For example, while men can invite their business clients to play golf at almost any time, women cannot — a practice that has created a grass ceiling of sorts.

«Women have to be allowed to network,» Mrs. Goodson said, «and a golf course is big business.»

Now, the interesting thing is, although the term «grass ceiling» has been in existence for more than a decade and a half, it still remains relatively unknown today. Why is that? Is it because «glass ceiling» is too popular and therefore it’s difficult for a similar looking and sounding phrase to be as accepted? No one knows for sure. But with golf becoming a more common sport all around the world, it is increasingly important to acknowledge and address the «grass ceiling» problem.

So, does it all come down to sexism, or are there other factors involved? Do Chinese women have it better or worse? And what can be done to help women break through the grass ceiling? Two colleagues are joining me today in the studio for a bit more discussion, Ding Lulu and Marc Cavigli.

(Studio Discussion) *Note: The discussion part of the show has always been spontaneous, therefore no script is available. Thanks for your understanding.

Thank you very much, guys. What Lulu said about her female friends forwarding that post on weixin (WeChat) really stuck with me. It’s such a shame that in this day and age, some women still think it’s okay for men to say «you are my face, and therefore I’m buying you all these things.» Remember Chairman Mao’s famous proclamation «women hold up half the sky»? How about we all start with being independent?

At the same time, I fully agree with Marc that we need to reconsider some of the practices that have always been taken for granted. If women can have maternity leave but men cannot have paternity leave, does that mean the job of feeding and taking care of newborn babies should always fall on women? That’s certainly something to think about. Currently, some Chinese men do enjoy paid paternity leave. It could be 3 days, or 30 days. It all depends on where you work, and is not guaranteed by national law.

And with that, we conclude this edition of The World According to Words. Any comments or suggestions are welcome. You can reach me on Weibo. Just go to weibo.com/criliuyan and leave me a message. You can also get in touch by email. The address is words at cri dot com dot cn. I’m your host and program producer Liu Yan. Until next time, good-bye.


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