glass ceiling


Definition of glass ceiling

: an intangible barrier within a hierarchy that prevents women or minorities from obtaining upper-level positions

Examples of glass ceiling in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

As Katherine, Thompson plays a woman who broke the glass ceiling by leaning away from her femininity. Eliza Berman, Time, "Emma Thompson Just Wants to Make Us Laugh—and Maybe Get Arrested," 6 June 2019 Statistics about glass ceilings and lower wages for women. Rebecca Swanson, Woman's Day, "Why I Stopped Being So Nice All the Time," 17 June 2016 In last year’s midterms, women candidates crushed glass ceilings, marking historic victories across America. Rebecca Nelson, Marie Claire, "2019's Barrier-Breaking Politicians Get to Work," 3 Jan. 2019 The competition, which began with bathing costumes in Atlantic City in 1920, has struggled to stay relevant in recent decades as women have gained some ground in terms of equality, moving into the workforce and chipping away at the glass ceiling. Cara Kelly, USA TODAY, "Miss America made a welcome change. But let's not pretend pageants are the root of the problem.," 5 June 2018 Aside from the empowering imagery (at one point, Grande-as-God is shown literally breaking the glass ceiling with a hammer) and the constantly changing hair and makeup, the real scene stealer is the body paint. Zoe Weiner, Allure, "Makeup Artists Are Recreating Ariana Grande's "God Is a Woman" Body Paint Look," 19 July 2018 Barra shattered the glass ceiling in 2014 when GM tapped her as CEO. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "General Motors names Suryadevara as company's first female CFO," 13 June 2018 But after breaking records for female representation a couple of decades ago, women have struggled to break the glass ceiling in Olympia. Joseph O’sullivan, The Seattle Times, "More women take aim at glass ceiling in campaigns for Washington Legislature," 27 May 2018 But Blackburn, hoping to break the Volunteer State's glass ceiling in the U.S. Senate, has so far found herself in the fight of her political life against former two-term Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen. NBC News, "Can Marsha Blackburn ride the Trump train to a Senate win in Tennessee?," 28 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'glass ceiling.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of glass ceiling

1984, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about glass ceiling

Statistics for glass ceiling

Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for glass ceiling

The first known use of glass ceiling was in 1984

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for glass ceiling

glass ceiling


English Language Learners Definition of glass ceiling

: an unfair system or set of attitudes that prevents some people (such as women or people of a certain race) from getting the most powerful jobs

More from Merriam-Webster on glass ceiling

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with glass ceiling

Comments on glass ceiling

What made you want to look up glass ceiling? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


behavior toward others

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!