Boys club

‘Steel ceiling,’ rather than glass ceiling, blamed for latest denial of woman to top post

Antonio Guterres speaks to reporters on the selection of the next UN Secretary-General at the UN headquarters in New York, on April 12,2016. (KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

The United Nations has all but selected its next secretary-general and — despite having several qualified women candidates up for the job and outgoing secretary-general Ban-Ki Moon expressing his desire to see a woman succeed him — the job is being given to a man. Former Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres has been elected to helm the organization and is expected to be easily confirmed in the role.

For many women, the outcome is being seen as bittersweet. Guterres’s reputation is solid, but many believe the international body missed an opportunity to make a show of gender equality. “We thought the U.N. could reform and move into the 21st century with gender equality. But they are still making backroom deals among the old boys club,” Jean Krasno, a lecturer on international affairs at the City College of New York and chair of the Campaign to Elect a Woman U.N. secretary-general, told Foreign Policy. “Fourteen men on the Security Council, and one woman, Samantha Power, just couldn’t envision a woman at the top,” she added.

But at least one woman saw this result coming from a mile away. Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, who was in the running but had faltered in an early straw poll, complained that the U.N. culture was steeped in an old “boys club” mentality. “You don’t have a chance if you’re a woman,” Malcorra said at the time. “It’s not a glass ceiling,” that prevents women from ascending to the top, she said. “It’s a steel ceiling.”

Read the full story at Foreign Policy.

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