Coined in the early 1980s, the term glass ceiling refers to an invisible and unbreakable barrier that prevents the advancement of women and members of ethnic and racial minority groups beyond middle management into top executive management positions, despite their qualifications.

Contemporary scholars note that the glass ceiling reflects inequalities in various job-related outcomes after all other employee characteristics (e.g., education, experience, ability, and so on) are controlled, that it manifests primarily in chances for advancement, particularly within the top tier of management, and that these inequalities tend to increase over the course of a person's career; ironically, as experience increases. The term is often compared to the glass escalator, which reflects the rapid advancement of white men into leadership roles within traditionally female-dominated occupations. ...

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