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

Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    http://www.wihe.com

  2. 2.

    We would like to note that the comparison is not to suggest that conceptual and epistemological differences do not exist across fields and disciplines, but rather we want to identify unifying macro themes.

  3. 3.

    In the context of this manuscript, promotional studies refer to those which analyze promotion patterns in particular organizations or follow individual cohorts as they ascend the employment hierarchy to increasing levels of responsibility, visibility, and power.

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Acknowledgement

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

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Correspondence to Jerlando F. L. Jackson.

Appendices

Appendices

See Tables 1, 2, and 3.

Table 1 List of documents included in review by sector
Table 2 List of documents included in review and source of glass ceiling definition
Table 3 Summary table of major conclusions

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Jackson, J.F.L., O’Callaghan, E.M. What Do We Know About Glass Ceiling Effects? A Taxonomy and Critical Review to Inform Higher Education Research. Res High Educ 50, 460–482 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-009-9128-9

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Keywords

  • Glass ceiling
  • Diversity
  • Discrimination
  • Gender inequities
  • Racial disparities