Despite comprising almost 50% of the total U.S. labor force, and 51.3% of employees in the U.S. casino industry (Price, Waterhouse, & Coopers, 2003), women are still underrepresented in high levels of business management. (According to Price, Waterhouse, & Coopers, 2003, this 51.3% figure includes Indian/Alaskan Native American employees.) It appears that the glass ceiling said to hinder women's advancement to senior-level management positions is still intact in the gaming industry.
"Political scientists and Nevada observers say women in Nevada may face a thicker glass ceiling because of the state's small, male-dominated political environment and a history of frontier sexism, wrote Coolican (2006)." Former Nevada Lieutenant Governor Lorraine Hunt, in the same article, noted that: "men make up the majority of senior executives in the state's dominant gaming industry" (Coolican, 2006). Clearly, the glass ceiling that hinders women's advancement to senior-level casino management is still intact.
Because little research on the glass-ceiling effect has focused specifically on the gaming industry, this researcher will explore to what extent women have the opportunity to demonstrate the skills and abilities considered necessary for promotion into senior-level leadership positions in the Nevada casinos. The findings could have significant implications for a segment of the entire United States' hospitality industry, which includes gaming industry.
Definition of Terms
The key management terms for the purposes of this paper are:
Senior-level Leaders--On the questionnaire that was sent to prospective participants, this researcher defined senior-level leaders as Owner, CEO and/or president, chief operating officer, general manager, assistant general manager, senior or executive vice president, vice president, CFO or controller, executive director, director, and senior-level manager. These people are ultimately responsible for the success/failure of the operations of the organization. In addition, these senior-level leaders have important strategy-making roles (Thompson, Gamble, & Strickland, 2006).
Gender and Career Success Research
The "glass ceiling" is a term coined in the 1970s in the United States to describe invisible and artificial barriers, created by attitudinal prejudices that block women from attaining senior-level leadership positions (Wirth, 2001). Are there still biased perceptions toward women today? Applebaum (2006) reported that women still face resistance in conservative business cultures, and the number of boardroom tables at which they hold seats varies widely by industry.
In 1995, the Glass Ceiling Commission, a panel sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor found that the glass ceiling was continuing to deny untold numbers of qualified people the opportunity to compete for and hold executive-level positions in the private sector (U. S. Department of Labor, 1995). Further, Weber (1998) found that women executives in the gaming industry, a segment of the hospitality industry, mentioned the old boys' network as one of the key constraints to their career progression.
According to research performed by Catalyst, an organization devoted to advancing women in the workplace, a mere 57 of 13,000 corporate officers were women, only 96 women ran business units, and only 1.9% of the highest-earning corporate officers were women (Knutson & Schmidgall, 1999). In a subsequent study of Fortune 500 companies, Catalyst found that there still was a shortage of women in the top ranks and that there had been few changes in senior-level women's attitudes and experiences within the past seven years (Catalyst, 2003).
As recently as 2004, even though some women were close enough to the top positions in firms to be considered in the recruitment pool for senior-level leadership positions, they rarely achieved such positions (Maume, Jr. …