glass ceiling

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glass, indicating transparency to allude to the unofficial nature of the limitation, and ceiling, suggesting a barrier to upward advancement.


glass ceiling (plural glass ceilings)

  1. An unwritten, uncodified barrier to further promotion or progression for a member of a specific demographic group.
    • 2007: Women are “woefully” under-represented in parliament, the courts and the boardroom, with new research showing that the glass ceiling is still holding back 6,000 women from the top 33,000 jobs in Britain. — The Guardian 5th Jan 2007, p. 1