Talk about a call to action.

When she accepted the first McKnight’s Women of Distinction Lifetime Award in May, Lynne Katzmann’s message surely resonated with many women. But it might have made a few men in the room uncomfortable.

That’s because the founder and president of Juniper Communities railed against the invisible barrier that seems to prevent women in senior living from rising to the top.

To be sure, there is plenty of evidence showing that women are under-represented at the top of most organizations. And there’s no shortage of studies demonstrating that the relatively few women who break through tend to more than hold their own.

But breaking through the glass ceiling is only one part of the career-advancement challenge many women must face.

In fact, a new report from and McKinsey reveals that the real trouble tends to start at what should be the first step up to management. That’s when many qualified women simply are passed over.

And thus the cascading inequality begins. Because relatively fewer women become entry-level managers, fewer still are available for promotion to senior level positions.

Is it any wonder men end up holding nearly two thirds of manager-level slots? To be sure, other factors can and do play a role here. But they hardly explain the entire gap.

So what should senior living organizations do to create more managerial parity? The study offers five strategies:

1. Set a goal for getting more women into first-level management

2. Require diverse slates for hiring and promotions

3. Put evaluators through unconscious bias training

4. Establish clear evaluation criteria

5. Put more women in line for the step up to manager

Of course, for any of these steps to take place, management buy-in is required. And therein lies a possible Catch 22. For as we’ve seen, most managers are men.

Will male-dominated senior living organizations be willing to enact new practices that bring more women into the C-suite?

That I don’t know. But this I do: The smart ones will.