The glass ceiling is a metaphor for the invisible barrier which keeps women and minorities from advancing their careers. This term was introduced in 1986 when it was featured in a Wall Street Journal article regarding corporate hierarchy. Such barriers are generally intangible and unwritten as they come in the forms of cultural norms and implicit biases. Indeed, some women face difficulties in being promoted in a male-dominated organization. For instance, a 2019 survey found out that only 6.6% of leading Fortune 500 employees are females.
This term is often associated with “mommy track” (hyperlink) which views mothers as less dedicated employees.
For example, Paul, a manager does not like to promote Sue, a newly married employee, since he thinks that she may eventually slack off because of maternal duties. Paul then promoted Andy even if he knows that Sue often outperforms him.