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"Glass ceiling" revisited

Posted by ESC on July 24, 2003

GLASS CEILING - "Invisible barrier to women or minorities in corporate promotions. This image of an unexpected see-through obstruction was coined in the mid-1980s. Alice Sargent, a Fortune 500 consultant and author of 'The Androgynous Manager,' told the 'Washington Post' in 1987 that 'women in corporate America are 'bumping their heads on the glass ceiling. Women are looking up at the top and not making it into the board room or the executive suites.' Women are not alone in discovering the barrier; minority males have experienced the same prejudicial treatment. Theresa Hong Bailar reported in 'East/West News' in 1988, 'The glass ceiling. The broken ladder. The great wall. These terms used to describe promotional barriers faced by Asian Americans in the workplace today - whether as a journeyman plumber or a rising star in an established company like Hewlett Packard.' Perhaps patterned on 'price ceiling' for a solid upper limit, 'glass ceiling' is primarily a barrier to upper management.A tougher variant of the breakable 'glass ceiling' is 'Lucite ceiling'." " From "Safire's New Political Dictionary" by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993).

Today I was reading a book (!!) and found another person credited with coining the phrase. This first sentence needs a little editing:

"For example, take the example of Marilyn Loden, author of 'Implementing Diversity,' who wrote on women and diversity. She coined the phrase the 'glass ceiling' to describe the barrier women had to face in the workplace, especially those who were gunning for top positions." From the "Word of Mouth" chapter in "Full Frontal PR: Getting people talking about you, your business, or your product" by Richard Laermer with Michael Prichinello, Bloomburg Press, Princeton, 2003.

Online at Loden.com it says: ".As an innovator in the field of organizational effectiveness and diversity change management, Ms. Loden pioneered the development of awareness training while at AT&T in the early 1970s to accelerate personal and institutional change. In 1977, in a speech delivered at the Women's Action Alliance conference in New York City, she coined the term 'glass ceiling' to describe the invisible barriers to career advancement that many non-traditional executives face." http://www.loden.com/staff.html Accessed July 24, 2003.

Now who do I believe?