Shonda Rhimes

The stark history of women and the glass ceiling, as told by Shonda Rhimes

In her thank-you speech, Hollywood executive producer Shonda Rhimes tells a strikingly honest account of women’s struggles in breaking the “glass ceiling.” Because of the work done in the past, women today now enjoy better career opportunities, Rhimes said.

“Do they know I haven’t broken any glass ceilings?”

 

In giving her thank-you speech for the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award, Hollywood executive producer Shonda Rhimes told her audience that she asked her publicist this question. The person behind TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, Rhimes received the award for reshaping the role of women and promoting diversity in these plots. Nevertheless, she insisted that her work was minimally important, as compared to the effort given by generations of women before her.

 

“How many women had to hit that glass to ripple it, to send out a thousand hairline fractures? How many women had to hit that glass before the pressure of their effort caused it to evolve from a thick pane of glass into just a thin sheet of splintered ice?”

Rhimes recounted the history of gender inequality in the entertainment industry. About 30 years ago, women were only designated to become secretaries, but not leaders in the field. Nevertheless, this had changed because women fought long and hard for equality. Those who had faced the glass ceiling first “ran back and forth” to hit it and weaken its structure. They had endured “cuts and bruises” in doing so, yet they never gave up. When Rhimes’ turn had come, she simply had to smash through a thin layer of ice.

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