Ladders and Escalators: Examining Advancement Obstacles for Women in Instructional Design

Jeremy Bond, Kathryn Hershey Dirkin, Alexa Tyler, Stefanie Lassitter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Careful analysis of survey data from Bond and Dirkin (2018) indicate the possible presence of a phenomenon known as the glass escalator, first put forth by Williams (1992; 2013), in instructional design. The glass escalator effect surfaced in female-majority professions, indicating that advantages are experienced by males due in part to their tokenism and social standing. The degree to which these factors are present varies from study to study and is impacted by the continuing evolution within the professions selected for investigation. The findings in this study note more significant experiences in leadership and more frequent involvement in functions extending beyond a traditional instructional design scope among male instructional designers, despite their minority status in the field. Though some factors that could account for the disparity are present, in other cases, conditions are contradictory or inconclusive. This analysis presents an area of research thus far absent relative to instructional design but a more common investigation into other similarly female-dominated fields. As the importance of instructional design increases, the need to more fully understand the field and areas affecting its practice likewise increase in importance.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Instructional Design
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2021


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