Glass ceiling
Posted: 18 April 2018 04:57 AM   [ Ignore ]
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From The Washington Post

Marilyn Loden hadn’t planned to make history when she spoke on a panel at the 1978 Women’s Exposition in New York.

When Loden’s turn came to speak, she thought about how she had been tasked with at her company to explore why more women weren’t entering management positions. She had gathered enough data that she felt confident the problem extended beyond what her colleagues were wearing or saying.

“It seemed to me there was an invisible barrier to advancement that people didn’t recognize,” Loden said.

That day, she called it the “glass ceiling.”

From OED, earliest cite for the phrase.

1984 Adweek 15 Mar. (Magazine World 1984) 39/2 Women have reached a certain point—I call it the glass ceiling. They’re in the top of middle management and they’re stopping and getting stuck.

One of these things is not like the other. Does OED need updating on this? The 1984 quote certainly sounds like someone who is claiming to have coined the phrase. Could this be Marilyn Loden too? A possible addition to the Big List for the phrase to sort the wheat from the chaff?

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Posted: 18 April 2018 06:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The 1984 quote certainly sounds like someone who is claiming to have coined the phrase.

Not necessarily; “I call it the glass ceiling” could perfectly well be followed by “...a phrase I picked up from Marilyn Loden a few years ago.” Definitely an antedate, at any rate.

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Posted: 18 April 2018 04:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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We don’t know who the author of the Adweek article is, either.  Could it be Marilyn Loden?  Not particularly likely but not impossible.

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Posted: 19 April 2018 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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This comes from “The Phrase Finder” at phrases.org.uk:

Management consultant Marilyn Loden says that she coined the phrase at a Women’s Action Alliance meeting held in Manhattan, USA in 1978:
“I first used the phrase ‘glass ceiling’ in 1978 during a panel discussion about women’s aspirations”.
There’s no reason to disbelieve Loden’s account but there aren’t any records of the meeting available to confirm it.

https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/glass-ceiling.html

Wikipedia has this:

The very first person to use the phrase was Marilyn Loden during a 1978 speech.[15][16][17] The concept of the glass ceiling was later popularized at the National Press Club in July 1979.[citation needed]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass_ceiling

If there is no proof, does that mean it is not recognized as the first usage? I would think there would be people who were at the National Press Club in ‘79 who could vouch for Loden’s usage as the first.

[ Edited: 19 April 2018 08:08 AM by Eyehawk ]
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Posted: 19 April 2018 08:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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That does make it rather tricky.  Of course it’s quite possible that two or more people came up with the phrase independently. It’s not unlikely that one would plump for glass to describe an invisible ceiling which acted as a barrier against women or other groups. But as always it’s the verifiable cite which claims the guerdon.

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Posted: 19 April 2018 11:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I would think there would be people who were at the National Press Club in ‘79 who could vouch for Loden’s usage as the first.

Memories, especially memories about language used in the past, are notoriously unreliable.

The best practice is to cite the date for which you have evidence, and then let people assume that it was in undocumented use for some period before that. If there is a reasonable claim that someone else used it orally first, you can include that as an unverified claim, but it doesn’t have the same weight as a documented use. I don’t see any reason to doubt that Loden used the phrase at the 1978, but it is also perfectly possible that she heard someone else use the phrase first and then forgot she had heard it elsewhere. And, Aldi is right; independent coinage is also very possible.

One of the things that makes Eric Partridge’s books unreliable is that the dates he lists are often his guesses as to when the term entered into use assuming some arbitrary number of years before the first citation. It’s best not to mix documented uses with undocumented ones.

[ Edited: 20 April 2018 04:42 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 19 April 2018 11:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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We’re not dealing with a court of law, but the OED, who need documented proof of first citation. Verification of what someone else has said is evidence only of the date of verification, not of the date the word or phrase was first coined.

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