Glass Walls

Shattering the Six Gender Bias Barriers Still Holding Women Back at Work


A new, important, and richly detailed guide to understanding gender bias with practical solutions for leaders, workplace allies, and individual women.

Gender bias is a powerful but hidden force that is still holding women back, keeping them from achieving their full potential and limiting organizations from achieving the creativity, problem solving, and growth that are possible with a diverse workforce.

In this revealing new book, Amy Diehl and Leanne Dzubinski shine a new light on gender bias in the workplace, uncovering the barriers that work like glass walls surrounding women. Through their original research, they have discovered six core factors and multiple subfactors of bias, giving names to some elements for the first time ever.

Their findings and analysis present a new, important, and richly detailed guidebook to understanding gender bias. They reveal:

  • How male privilege, the bedrock on which gender bias is built, results in a workplace created by men and for men.
  • How women encounter disproportionate constraints in that workplace, being expected to play supportive roles to men.
  • The surprising ways in which women experience insufficient support based on gender.
  • The concept of devaluation, and how it tells women they don’t belong at work.
  • The troubling ways women face hostility to keep them in their supposed place, merely because of their gender.
  • How the combined weight of these barriers leads to acquiescence, when women internalize the obstacles and adapt to the limitations.

The barriers identified, and the subcomponents of each, are destined to become the framework for understanding gender bias. Glass Walls provides a roadmap to shatter barriers holding women back once and for all.

Glass Walls Shattering the Six Gender Bias Barriers Still Holding Women Back at Work AMY DIEHL AND LEANNE M. DZUBINSKI


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Brigid Schulte

“For all the women who’ve felt alone, held back, left out or unappreciated at work, (yes, please,) for all the men who’ve cavalierly taken credit or failed to see the value of their female colleagues, and for all the leaders who’ve helped create the biased systems that so blindly diminish women and their contributions, this book is for you. Amy Diehl and Leanne Dzubinski have written a meticulously researched, compelling, infuriating yet ultimately hopeful roadmap that shines a spotlight on both the barriers to overcome and the practical strategies that will lead to a better, more equitable future of work – for everyone.”

—Brigid Schulte, award-winning journalist, author of the New York Times bestselling Overwhelmed: Work, Love & Play when No One has the Time, and director of The Better Life Lab at New America

David G. Smith, PhD

“Glass Walls reveals hidden gender biases that have plagued the traditional workplace. Drs. Diehl and Dzubinski’s evidence-based approach to understanding how these biases operate ensure that leaders and organizations have a roadmap to finally shatter gender biases stifling women’s careers and organizational potential. A must read for allies and leaders looking to quickly create real sustainable change!”

—David G. Smith, PhD, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, and coauthor of Good Guys and Athena Rising

Fiona Macaulay

“Glass Walls couldn’t have come at a better time. Drs. Diehl and Dzubinski provide a much-needed framework to understand the playing field for women in today’s working world – and the subtle mechanisms that continue to keep women out of positions of influence. More than just theory, however, it’s a practical guide for the women, allies, and inclusive leaders crying out for strategies to overcome and ultimately, dismantle these invisible barriers.”

—Fiona Macaulay, Founder-CEO, WILD Network and Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business

booklist starred review badge

“To support the work that creating gender-equitable environments demands, chapters are based on six clear types of gender bias and contain examples of that bias to illuminate the obstacles for even sheltered or reluctant leaders…The authors contribute to reader understanding, expanding the use of their work to make it actionable as they conclude each chapter with a segment outlining strategies to guide three types of team members—leaders, allies, self—in creating a sustainably equitable workplace…. The practicality and clarity make this a valuable contribution to collections in academic and public libraries.”

—Val Edwards, Booklist STARRED Review

dr. marshall goldsmith

“Powerful! Glass Walls is a crucial resource for anyone seeking to promote gender diversity, cultivate creativity, and unlock the full potential of their workforce. Filled with examples of real and incredible women, and backed by research, this book is a call to action for individuals, management, and allies alike, providing the tools needed to break down barriers and build a more equitable and thriving workplace.”

—Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, Thinkers50 #1 Executive Coach and New York Times bestselling author of The Earned Life, Triggers, and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

dr. marshall goldsmith

“Amy Diehl and Leanne M. Dzubinski wrote a fascinating book on gender bias in the workplace. Glass Walls: Shattering the Six Gender Bias Barriers Still Holding Women Back at Work illuminates the pervasive yet invisible prejudices women face in the workplace. Check it out if you want to understand these hidden biases better!”

—Ms. Magazine

dr. marshall goldsmith

“This book identifies six gender bias barriers that hold women back: male privilege, disproportionate constraints, inappropriate support, devaluation, hostility, and acquiescence. There is a chapter for each, with subcategories. For instance, under disproportionate constraints is appropriating, which, in turn, draws on humorous and clever terms such as “hepeating,” “bropropriating,” and “mansplaining” to demonstrate how male colleagues often appropriate women’s contributions. Making the point that gender bias is an organizational issue, not a women’s issue, each chapter ends with strategies for leaders, allies, and the reader. The strategies are very clear, with good guidance on how to apply them. The theme of organizational responsibility is intensified in a chapter addressing how the six barriers often combine to cause damage not only to the victims but also to the organization itself. That chapter ends with a “Gender Equity and Inclusion Roadmap” toward an equitable, inclusive organization. The final chapter provides six strategies for “Taking Charge of Your Own Success.” Readable and filled with familiar as well as evocative examples from the authors’ substantial and well-documented research, this book is a worthwhile complement to The No Club: Putting a Stop to Women’s Dead-End Work (2022). Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; professionals; general readers.”

—Choice Reviews

About the Authors

Amy Diehl, PhDAmy Diehl, PhD, is an award-winning information technology leader and gender equity researcher who has authored numerous scholarly journal articles and book chapters. Her writing has also appeared in Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and Ms. Magazine. Glass Walls is her first book. She is also a sought-after speaker, consultant, and lawsuit expert witness.

Explore more of Amy’s published writing here.

Leanne M. Dzubinski, PhDLeanne M. Dzubinski, PhD, is acting dean and associate professor of intercultural education in the Cook School of Intercultural Studies at Biola University in California. She is the author of Women in the Mission of the Church: Their Opportunities and Obstacles throughout Christian History and Playing by the Rules: How Women Lead in Evangelical Mission Organizations. She has written many scholarly articles related to gender bias and her work has been published in Harvard Business Review and Fast Company. Prior to moving to California, she worked in western Europe for many years.

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