Research in Higher Education

, Volume 50, Issue 5, pp 460–482 | Cite as

What Do We Know About Glass Ceiling Effects? A Taxonomy and Critical Review to Inform Higher Education Research

  • Jerlando F. L. JacksonEmail author
  • Elizabeth M. O’Callaghan


The concept of “glass ceiling effects” has emerged in social science research in general and higher education in particular over the past 20 years. These studies have described the impediments that women and people of color encounter in their quest for senior-level positions (e.g., CEOs) in society as glass ceiling effects. Literature, both empirical and non-empirical, has provided broad and varied interpretations of glass ceiling effects. In turn, the literature is less-than-settled on the application of glass ceiling effects. In this manuscript, the authors analyzed and critiqued 66 documents in order to advance theoretical and practical knowledge regarding glass ceiling effects in higher education.


Glass ceiling Diversity Discrimination Gender inequities Racial disparities 



Research support for this manuscript was provided by the University of Wisconsin System’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerlando F. L. Jackson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elizabeth M. O’Callaghan
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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