Barriers to Career Progress: Sticky Floor or Glass Ceiling?


The term “sticky floor” is used to describe a discriminatory employment pattern that keeps a certain group of people at the bottom of the job scale. Most of the workers who experience the “sticky floor” are “pink collar workers,” such as secretaries, nurses, or waitresses. Close to half of working women, compared to one-sixth of working men, hold clerical or service jobs which are often associated with the “sticky floor.”

By comparison, the term “glass ceiling” is used to describe an artificial discriminatory barrier which blocks the advancement of women or people of color who already hold fairly good jobs, usually in middle management.


We found this to be a handy little resource for explaining the status of women in the workplace in America. The information may be a little dated but still useful. Designed for Japanese cultural exchange, the material here is available in Japanese and English. There is also a podcast available at


Further reading –