“Glass Ceiling” – Definition, Origin, Uses, and Examples

Have you ever heard someone use the term ‘glass ceiling’ in an English conversation? What does this term mean and how can we use it in our day to day conversations? We will look into the answers to these questions as well as looking at the history of the phrase and where it came from in the first place.

Glass Ceiling

“Glass Ceiling” Definition

The term ‘glass ceiling’ refers to an imaginary barrier that stands in the way of certain groups of people from reaching the topmost level in a situation. The phrase is often used in the workplace.

Origin of this idiomatic phrase

The idiom ‘glass ceiling’ was first coined in a book from 1984 and referenced the fact that women were not able to achieve certain things in a male-dominated business place. The term was used regularly by feminists who wanted equality at work for women.

“Glass Ceiling” Examples

Examples in Statements

This statement is made about the marriage rights of gay people.

  • ‘People in the gay community are not allowed to marry one another in some countries, there is a glass ceiling stopping them from being able to have this right.’

More helpful examples: 

  • The glass ceiling does not exist because they don’t let it.
  • Many new immigrants are concerned about the glass ceiling in some organizations.
  • If we’re not making enough money we can blame it on the glass ceiling.
  • Goodhue shattered the glass ceiling as the first female publisher at Time Inc.

Conversation Examples

If you are curious to know how the term ‘glass ceiling’ fits into a conversation, here are some examples to show you how the term would sound.

Conversation number one is made between two friends discussing women’s rights at work.

  • Person 1: “It isn’t fair that women don’t receive the same pay as men when they do the same job.”
  • Person 2: “There’s a glass ceiling that will be almost impossible to get through.”

A conversation between two people regarding actors and their races.

  • Person 1: “It is such a shame that white actors always seem to get the role of James Bond.”
  • Person 2: “It’s that glass ceiling, other races struggle to get through.”

Other Ways to Say the Phrase

There are many other ways to talk about the meaning of the term ‘glass ceiling.’ Some examples of this might be as follows.

  • Unwritten barrier
  • Social obstacles
  • Intangible barrier
  • Uncodified barrier

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Last Updated on January 11, 2021

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