The Glass Ceiling Effect

  title={The Glass Ceiling Effect},
  author={David A. Cotter and Joan M. Hermsen and Seth Ovadia and Reeve D. Vanneman},
  journal={Social Forces},
  pages={655 - 681}
The popular notion of glass ceiling effects implies that gender (or other) disadvantages are stronger at the top of the hierarchy than at lower levels and that these disadvantages become worse later in a person's career. We define four specific criteria that must be met to conclude that a glass ceiling exists. Using random effects models and data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we examine gender and race inequalities at the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles of white male earnings. We… 

Gender and the Glass Ceiling at Work

The glass ceiling is a popular metaphor for explaining the inability of many women to advance past a certain point in their occupations and professions, regardless of their qualifications or

Gender Sorting and the Glass Ceiling in High-Tech Firms

With few exceptions, studies have conceived of the glass ceiling as reflecting internal promotion biases. In this article, the authors argue that glass ceiling patterns can also be the result of

Is the Glass Ceiling a Unique Form of Inequality?

A recent paper by Cotter, Hermsen, Ovadia, and Vanneman explicates four criteria for distinguishing the glass ceiling as a unique form of inequality. First, a glass ceiling exists when artificial

The Glass Ceiling – Where is it? Women's and Men's Career Prospects in the Private vs. the Public Sector in Sweden 1979–2000

Previous research suggests that women have more limited career opportunities than men. Using Swedish longitudinal data, covering the period between 1979 and 2000, more light is shed on the

The Glass Ceiling in Politics

There is a scarcity of women at the apex of political power, as well as a lack of methods to disentangle the potential sources of this under-representation. This article suggests a four-step method

Using Salary as a Measure of Glass Ceiling Effects: Lessons for Institutional Researchers

Glass ceiling effects have been at the center of controversy within academia for years. No topic is more sensitive or anxiety-inducing than salaryequity issues, namely how salaries are fairly

Glass Ceilings or Glass Doors? The Role of Firms in Male‐Female Wage Disparities

I use Canadian linked employer-employee data to examine whether women face a glass ceiling in the labour market. I also measure the extent to which the glass ceiling comes about because women are

Glass Ceilings, Glass Escalators and Revolving Doors

Drawing from the literature on “glass ceilings” and “glass escalators”, we analyze gender differences in career advancement across occupations. We argue that gender-typical occupations provide

Insidious Nonetheless: How Small Effects and Hierarchical Norms Create and Maintain Gender Disparities in Organizations

An agent-based model is presented that explores how empirically established mechanisms of interpersonal discrimination coevolve with social norms at both the organizational (meso) and societal (macro) levels to produce this glass ceiling effect for women.




The general-case glass ceiling hypothesis states that not only is it more difficult for women than for men to be promoted up levels of authority hierarchies within workplaces but also that the

The Glass Ceiling Revisited: Determinants of Federal Job Advancement

Using the results of a recent survey of federal employees and focus groups of the same population, this article extends previous research on the existence of a glass ceiling in the federal


There is a range of issues on which we and our critics-Myra Marx Ferree and Bandana Purkayastha, and Dana M. Britton and Christine L. Williams-agree: Women face systematic obstacles to promotions in

Glass-ceiling effect or cohort effect ? A longitudinal study of the gender earnings gap for engineers, 1982 to 1989

Using longitudinal data from the Survey of Natural and Social Scientists and Engineers (SSE), the author investigates whether what appears to be a glass ceiling in cross-sectional analyses of the

Women above the Glass Ceiling

This research focuses on women in corporate positions “above the glass ceiling” and explores their perceptions on corporate mobility and strategies for success in elite positions. Through interviews

Family Structure, Glass Ceiling, and Traditional Explanations for the Differential Rate of Turnover of Female and Male Managers

Abstract This longitudinal study investigated differential turnover rates between male and female managers employed by 20 Fortune 500 corporations. Data were first collected from the sample in 1989.

Explaining Occupational Sex Segregation and Wages: Findings from a Model with Fixed Effects

Does segregation arise because "female" occupations have financial advantages for women planning to spend some time as homemakers as human-capital theorists claim? Do "male" occupations have more

Women's Gains or Men's Losses? A Closer Look at the Shrinking Gender Gap in Earnings

The recent closing of the gender wage gap is often attributed to increases in women's human capital. This explanation neglects the effect of growing inequality in men's earnings. The authors develop

Discrimination at the Top: American‐Born Asian and White Men

Asians are perceived as doing very well, and, indeed, the average earnings of several Asian groups exceed those of whites. However, although entering well-paying positions, Asians may be prevented