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glass ceiling

[glas see-ling]
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noun
  1. an upper limit to professional advancement that is imposed upon women, minorities, and other nondominant groups and is not readily perceived or openly acknowledged: It’s more difficult for women of color to break through the glass ceiling.
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Origin of glass ceiling

First recorded in 1980–85
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for glass ceiling

glass ceiling

noun
  1. a situation in which progress, esp promotion, appears to be possible but restrictions or discrimination create a barrier that prevents it
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

glass ceiling in Culture

glass ceiling

An unacknowledged — and ultimately illegal — barrier to advancement, especially for women and people of color: “In many professions a woman cannot break through the glass ceiling to the upper level of management.” The term dates from the 1980s.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with glass ceiling

glass ceiling

An unacknowledged discriminatory barrier to advancement, especially for women and minorities. For example, Harriet knew she'd never be promoted—she would never get through the glass ceiling. [1980s]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.