Susan McGalla: Empowering Women to Break Through the Glass Ceiling

Whether acknowledged or not, glass ceilings, limiting the advancement of women within many organizations, are an unfortunate reality. Gender discrimination inhibits women’s growth in the workplace and prevents them from achieving high level positions despite the fact that they often have equivalent skills sets to the men who occupy those roles.

Susan McGalla, former president of American Eagle Outfitters, has bucked this trend in a notable way. When she started working at the company in 1994, all of the top positions belonged to men and she left the company in 2009 as president. Subsequently founding her own consulting firm, P3 Consulting, McGalla now doubles as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Vice President for Creative Strategy and Business Development. She is a sought after speaker and motivator on women’s advancement in the workplace.

McGalla doesn’t believe that women are lacking networking opportunities and initiatives to help them advance in the workplace. There are no shortage of these. According to McGalla, there is a significant institutional obstacle which is hindering women’s career growth: Men. Specifically, there are too many of them at the top. Without other women who can prop them up, McGalla says, women will remain at a severe disadvantage, stuck in an endless cycle of genderq discrimination and career stagnation.

According to McGalla, the real answer to the gender gap dilemma is for women to find a passionate male advocate within their company who will volunteer women to lead major projects and occupy important roles within the organization. This will help create opportunities for aspiring, career minded women, and will in turn, develop opportunities qqfor others who follow the lead of these women who were propelled to leadership roles.

Susan McGalla grew up with brothers and a football coach father and was not treated any differently because of her gender. She was taught to work hard and engage the world with boldness, creativity and confidence. She has never allowed gender to hinder her career aspirations and growth and she is determined to empower other women to have that same attitude. With more women like Susan McGalla, that infamous glass ceiling may soon just be a thing of the past.

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