Glass ceiling


      • invisible barrier
        Describing an unacknowledged societal or organizational barrier that prevents certain groups from advancing to higher positions or levels of success

      • limited opportunities
        Referring to the lack of upward mobility or advancement for individuals in a particular group, often due to discrimination or biases

      • discriminatory practices
        Highlighting the systemic or institutionalized barriers that prevent marginalized groups, specifically women, from reaching top positions or equal opportunities in the workplace

    Examples of Glass ceiling

    • Although Jane had the qualifications and experience necessary to advance to a senior management position, she hit a glass ceiling and was unable to break through the invisible barrier that prevented her from moving up the corporate ladder.

      The idiom "glass ceiling" refers to an unseen but apparent barrier that prevents women, minorities, and other marginalized groups from moving into upper-level management positions or achieving higher levels of success in their respective fields or organizations. The term "glass" is used to convey the idea of transparency, suggesting that the barrier is intangible and difficult to identify or quantify. The term "ceiling" is used to imply a literal barrier or limit, suggesting that there is a cap on how high someone can rise in their career or profession, regardless of their skills, talent, or hard work. In Jane's case, her glass ceiling was the result of a combination of factors, including gender, age, and company culture, which made it difficult for her to advance beyond a certain point in her career, despite her qualifications and achievements.

    • Sarah has hit the glass ceiling at her company. She's been working there for years and has exceeded all expectations, but she's still stuck at the same management level.

      The "glass ceiling" is a metaphorical term that describes an invisible barrier preventing women and minorities from advancing in their careers, especially in upper management positions. It suggests that there is a barrier, just as a glass ceiling is a solid barrier that prevents something from passing through, despite possessing the necessary skills and qualifications.

    • Despite her exceptional performance at work, Jane's career growth has been impeded by the glass ceiling. She's become frustrated and disillusioned, feeling that her hard work and dedication have not been recognized or rewarded.

      In this example, Jane's career growth has been hindered by the glass ceiling, which is preventing her from moving up the corporate ladder. The metaphor suggests that the barrier, like a glass ceiling, is an obstacle that cannot be broken through, no matter how hard one tries.

    • The company's policies are pushing more and more women into the glass ceiling trap. While their male counterparts are being promoted and given opportunities for advancement, women are being denied promotions and left stagnant at middle management levels.

      Here, the glass ceiling is seen as a "trap," meaning that it is a systemic problem that is keeping women from advancing in their careers. The use of the term "trap" suggests that women are unknowingly falling into this trap, despite their efforts to succeed.

    • As a mother, it's been incredibly difficult for Mary to break through the glass ceiling. Her family responsibilities and caring for children have made it challenging for her to maintain full-time hours and meet the demands of advancing her career.

      Here, the glass ceiling is presented as an obstacle that is particularly challenging for women who have family responsibilities. The term implies that these women are being held back by societal and cultural expectations that require them to prioritize family obligations over their careers.


    The idiom "glass ceiling" is used to describe a variety of barriers and limitations that prevent certain groups, particularly women, from achieving success or advancement in their careers. It encompasses both tangible and intangible obstacles, such as discriminatory practices and limited opportunities for growth and advancement.

    In a broader sense, the phrase can also be used to describe societal and cultural norms that restrict the potential and achievements of marginalized groups. It highlights the pervasive nature of discrimination and the need for systemic change to break through the glass ceiling and achieve true equality.

    Origin of "Glass ceiling"

    The phrase "glass ceiling" was first coined in the 1970s by feminist activists to describe the limitations and barriers faced by women in the workplace. It gained widespread use in the 1980s and 1990s as more women began entering the workforce and facing unequal opportunities for advancement.

    The term itself is thought to have originated from the idea of an invisible ceiling made of glass that prevents individuals from reaching higher levels of success and growth. It also evokes the fragility of this barrier and the potential for it to be shattered through persistence and determination.

    Examples of the glass ceiling in action can be seen throughout history, from women being denied higher education and job opportunities to the persistence of the gender pay gap. While progress has been made in breaking through the glass ceiling, there is still much work to be done to achieve true equality and equity in the workplace.