Breaking barriers? Women’s leadership and representation at the United Nations

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17 Citations (Scopus)


The appointment of Christine Lagarde in 2011 to the leadership of the International Monetary Fund may have been a highlight for women's representation in international organizations, suggesting that the final glass ceiling for women in global governance has been broken. However, this article shows that leadership and representation by women in global governance continues to be curtailed by “glass walls” on the one hand, and flexible glass ceilings on the other. While women in UN agencies today stand on firmer floors, relying on a stronger institutional framework and increasing numbers of women working at all levels of the UN system, women are channeled into gender-specific portfolios, creating glass walls. Moreover, glass ceilings, once shattered, may indeed resettle as recent staff changes by Ban Ki-moon show. Thus, the picture of women's representation and gender equality in UN leadership is a mixed one.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-54
JournalGlobal Governance
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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