Honoring Marilyn Loden, Who Coined “The Glass Ceiling”

Barbara Lee | Sep 19, 2022


Marilyn Loden was a management consultant and author who is credited with coining the phrase “the glass ceiling.” Loden was born in 1946 in New York, and she attended college at Syracuse University in 1968. After college, Loden worked in Human Resources for New York Telephone. In 1978, she was on a panel about how women were held back at work at a feminist conference. “It seemed to me that there was an invisible barrier to advancement that people didn’t recognize,” Loden said. She then used the term “the glass ceiling” to describe the barrier. Loden went on to consult and advise companies on gender differences in leadership and on diversity in the workplace, and she wrote three books on gender and diversity.

Marilyn Loden passed away in August 2022.

Marilyn Loden gave us a powerful phrase that is now deeply woven into our cultural fabric and how we think about women’s representation in politics. Over the past five years, we have seen dramatic progress in women’s political leadership. We set records for the number of women in Congress in both 2018 and 2020. We have more women than ever serving as Supreme Court Justices; and last year, we swore in our first woman Vice President, Kamala Harris. A record number of women will be on the ballot for Governor this November.

Despite many gains, there is still work to do. My Foundation’s research shows that women in politics are held to different and higher standards than men. Women of color face additional bias. Although there is still an “imagination barrier” when it comes to picturing women at the highest levels of government, the more we see women run, the more this changes.

I will always think of Marilyn Loden every time we celebrate women breaking the glass ceiling.

Read more about Marilyn Loden here.

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