A 1986 Wall Street Journal article on women in the work force popularized the term glass ceiling to describe the experience of female executives who seemed unable to reach the highest levels of corporate success. Since that time, the term has entered the popular lexicon, and a large number of academic, journalistic, and government reports have addressed the problem. The Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, founded in 1991, defined the glass ceiling in its 1995 report, as the “unseen, yet unbreachable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements” (p. 4). This entry covers definitions, illustrations, and explanations of the glass ceiling and related forms of gender and racial inequality.

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