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The Glass Ceiling (Upper-Intermediate – C1)

The Glass Ceiling - Transcript

The glass ceiling is a metaphor for the fact that women are not promoted to senior positions in companies because of their gender. It refers to the idea that women may be able to reach a certain level in their careers, but they are prevented from going further because of discrimination. Although the glass ceiling is invisible to many observers, it is a real barrier to women trying to progress in their careers. According to research by a nonprofit organization that works to improve workplace policies, in some industries more than 80 percent of senior management positions are held by men.
Other research has shown that once a woman has children, her chance of receiving a promotion or other advancement opportunities diminishes significantly. The reason for this is that many employers assume that once a woman has a child she no longer has as much time to dedicate to her work. Although this may be true for some working mothers, it is not true for all. Women who receive support from their spouses or other family members are often able to continue working as they had prior to having children.

The Glass Ceiling - Video

The Glass Ceiling - Video Gap Fill

Why not try a Video Gap Fill assignment based on this lesson?

Understanding the Glass Ceiling

The term “glass ceiling” was first used in the 1980s. It refers to an invisible but powerful barrier that prevents certain groups, particularly women, from advancing to top positions in the workplace. The phrase was invented by management consultant Marilyn Loden. She used it to suggest that there are unseen obstacles that prevent individuals from reaching their goals, often due to gender, race, or other factors that people cannot control.

A Symbolic Barrier

The glass ceiling is not a physical object. It is a symbol representing the challenges faced by groups who are trying to be promoted in the workplace. These people often come close to the top positions but find it difficult to break through. This phenomenon is not only a workplace issue but a societal one, reflecting deeply ingrained biases and stereotypes that affect opportunities for career advancement.

Efforts to Break Down the Barrier

Over the years, various plans have been tried to fix the problem of the glass ceiling. Companies have introduced programs to support individuals who have not often been promoted in the past, providing guidance and opportunities for skill development. Diversity training has become more common. This training is designed to create awareness and get rid of negative impressions that cause to the glass ceiling.

Legal Solutions

Legal solutions, such as affirmative action and equal opportunity legislation, have been used in many countries to promote fairness and fight discrimination in the workplace. Organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of having diverse leadership teams, not only for ethical reasons but also for the proven benefits of diverse perspectives in decision-making.


Despite progress, the glass ceiling is still with us. This tells us that stronger efforts are needed. Gender and racial equality has gained improved because of movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter. These movements have shown us systemic issues and encouraged societies to push for meaningful change. Companies are being asked to establish transparent hiring and promotion processes and to fix pay gaps.

The fight against the glass ceiling continues. It requires that everyone work together to get rid of attitudes that prevent certain people from reaching their full potential. Breaking the glass ceiling is not just about personal success; it is a critical step toward building more fair and stable societies.



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