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Breaking The Glass Ceiling

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Characters who are the first of their gender/ethnicity/etc to achieve something

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Vios on Nov 19th 2017 at 10:14:20 PM
Last Edited By:
Vios on Feb 15th 2019 at 1:22:59 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Many ranks, awards, or other achievements in life have traditionally been reserved for people of a privileged gender, race, or other such category. This trope is about characters from a non-favored group who break through such "ceilings" - for example, the first woman to join a previously all-male military unit, or the first black guy on the town council. If they've already achieved their feat, it can be used to characterise them as tough, determined, and/or ambitious (depending on what they achieved and how they did it). If they're still aspiring, it can be used to give them motivation and drive the plot.

Characters like this may have to go through a Jackie Robinson Story in which they face hostility from people who don't believe they should be there. This might involve a Double Standard which requires them to work twice as hard to prove themselves, or they may have to conspicuously save the day in an All of the Other Reindeer moment. Their talents may be squandered on menial jobs ("You, Get Me Coffee") and they'll often be Eating Lunch Alone. Even if the people in charge actually want the ceiling broken, other people may still mutter that the ceiling-breaker only succeeded thanks to Political Correctness Gone Mad.

Alternatively, they may bypass the Jackie Robinson route of proving themselves and find a different means to break the ceiling. People who find their advancement unjustly blocked may not care about the rules - they may try Loophole Abuse, or they may be in a position to simply say "Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!" (via Nepotism or Sleeping Their Way to the Top) — if so, Never a Self-Made Woman may apply. If their Ambition Is Evil, they could even obtain their breakthrough via Klingon Promotion. A more subtle approach is to sneak around the ceiling by pretending to be part of the group it doesn't apply to - for example, by employing Sweet Polly Oliver.

Even when characters who break a ceiling are successful and celebrated, however, they're still forging a new path by themselves and may be a Fish out of Water in ways that their colleagues don't understand. If ceiling-breaking characters are Famed In-Story and held up as examples for others to follow, they may be glad to know that they're inspiring people and making it easier for the next generation, but others will find the pressure unwelcome and just want to be treated normally. And just because an individual is accepted, it doesn't mean the overall prejudice is gone: bigots may simply have created a Bigotry Exception by ignoring the ceiling-breaker's point of difference ("You Know I'm Black, Right?") or judging them A Credit to Their Race. Occasionally, ceiling-breaking characters will be called a Category Traitor by members of their own group, having "joined the system" and become "tame". These accusations may even be right - the successful character may be a Boomerang Bigot or The Quisling, and not rocking the boat may be a condition of their acceptance.

May involve Overly Narrow Superlative. See also Stay in the Kitchen, "Billy Elliot" Plot, You Go, Girl!, and The Smurfette Principle. Not to be confused with breaking literal glass ceilings.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • In an ad for a brand of chips called Grain Waves, a grain becomes the first of his kind to grow up to be a chip instead of bread or porridge like his family.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Saiunkoku Monogatari, Shuurei wants to become a government administrator, but the required Imperial Examinations can only be taken by men. She has a roundabout route of achieving this goal, becoming a consort (and unofficial tutor and advisor) to the Emperor first.

    Comic Books 
  • In Top 10, Joe Pi is the first officer from the Ninth Parallel (an all-robot world) to serve in the Tenth Precinct. Since Neopolis still has... issues with its robot population, he initially faces a lot of hostility with his fellow officers.

    Film - Animated 
  • Zootopia has Judy Hopps, who's the first bunny to become a police officer in Zootopia (a force normally comprised of megafauna and/or predators). As a result, people initially don't take her seriously.
  • In Mulan, Mulan at the end is asked by the Emperor to join his Council. It's downplayed because she refuses the offer because she wants to go home, but even the job offer itself is groundbreaking because up until now the Council was reserved for men.

    Film - Live Action 
  • G.I. Jane is about the first woman to join the the U.S. Navy Combined Reconnaissance Teamnote . It's part of a program to test the viability of allowing more, but plenty of people don't want her to succeed. Besides the brutal nature of the training itself, she has to deal with things such as accusations of being a lesbian (this being in the days when you weren't allowed to openly be so in the US military). Even things which seem like support are not actually support - she receives preferential treatment in her physical training until she rejects it on the grounds that it undermines the point she's there to prove (and also that it makes everyone resent her).
  • In Down Periscope, Lt. Emily Lake is the first woman to serve on a submarine of the United States Navy. Commander Dodge, not having been informed in advance, initially thinks that his crew have hired a stripper, and they do indeed treat her mostly as eye candy to start with (which leads them to sabotage her laundry to make her uniform more revealing). Her lack of real-world experience (and lack of confidence) doesn't help her in establishing her credentials, but when a particularly tricky situation calls for her specialist training, she rises to the occasion and proves her skill as a dive officer.
  • Courage Under Fire is all about whether or not Captain Walden, an army helicopter pilot, should be the the first woman awarded the Medal of Honor (posthumously, in this case). Surviving members of the unit paint very different pictures of her, ranging from heroic to cowardly - in the end, the latter claim is revealed to be a cover-up of the accusers' own misdeeds and the medal is awarded. (In real life, Mary Walker had already became the first female recipient of the Medal of Honor in 1865, although she was a surgeon rather than a combatant.)
  • In Bright, Nick Jakoby is the first orc police officer in the Los Angeles Police Department, in an alternate Earth where orcs and elves live alongside regular humans.
  • Subverted in Sky High (2005), the main character, Will Stronghold, goes to a Superhero School, and when is shown that he doesn't have any superpowers he is sent to the "Hero Support Class" (Sidekicks), in the middle of the movie he actually develop superpowers, and his friends say that he now is opening new roads by being a superstrong sidekick, then he is informed that he was transfered to the superheroes class.
  • Django Unchained: Dr. Schultz, in his plan to get Django's lover back from Calvin Candie's house, suggests Django to pretend to be a black slaver (the story is set in Deep South before the American Civil War, so finding a black man in that role would have been decidedly unusual).

    Literature 
  • From Discworld:
    • Equal Rites features Eskarina, a girl who wants to be a wizard and not a witch. Both witches and wizards would mostly prefer that this not occur, but she becomes the first female student at the wizards' Unseen University anyway. Based on her eventual reappearance in I Shall Wear Midnight, she did well for herself - but Unseen University still seems to be a male institution despite having made an exception for her.
    • Men at Arms sees the Night Watch admit three new officers, each of whom is a "first": Cuddy (first dwarf), Detritus (first troll), and Angua (first woman and also first werewolf). They were explicitly added to the Watch in the name of diversity, since the city is itself increasingly diverse, but Commander Vimes doesn't approve (although his prejudices add up to disliking everyone equally, and he's also annoyed at having the decision pushed on him rather than being allowed to decide for himself).
    • In ''Feet of Clay, Dorfl is not only the first golem to join the Watch, he's also the first to be able to choose to do so, as Carrot freed him from his Servant Race status by including his bill of sale along with his chem. What is more important to the rest of the world is that he's the first ever golem to have a voice, as he was rebuilt with a mouth. The religious community are particularly unhappy with it, as their usual trump-card argument is entirely ineffective on a golem made of clay.
    • In Thud!, Sally is the first vampire in the watch, but she gets in due to the Temperance League and Vetinari forcing her on Vimes (despite his well-known aversion to vampires). When he discovers she's a spy for the Low King, he keeps her on the force because she is useful, but is happy that this means he won't have any more people forced on him).
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the Empire had a strong preference towards people who were both human and male. However, there were people who managed to overcome this prejudice and achieve high rank anyway.
    • One example is Thrawn (appearing in The Thrawn Trilogy, the stand-alone book Thrawn, and elsewhere). As a non-human, he faced a lot of prejudice in his early service with the Empire. However, he was enough of a Magnificent Bastard to get himself all the way to the rank of Grand Admiral.
    • The Jedi Academy Trilogy introduced Natasi Daala, who would not have achieved her rank except for the fact that she was sleeping with Grand Moff Tarkin. There seem to be differing opinions as to whether his favouritism promoted her beyond her abilities or simply allowed her to claim her rightful due - but deservedly or not, she was the first woman to make admiral in the Imperial fleet.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, Duv Galeni is the first Komarran member of ImpSec, the security and intelligence service of the Barrayaran Empire, which conquered his home planet. He gets trouble from both sides - some Komarrans naturally view him as a traitor and a quisling (not least his own militant father), while many Barrayarans don't trust him and are waiting for him to slip up. However, he believes that integration and cooperation between Kommarr and Barrayar is the only way good forward for either of them, and that putting up with the problems will make things easier for those who follow after him.
  • In the Tortall Universe, Alanna becomes the first female knight, but this isn't publicly known until after she's done it, because she disguised herself as a boy. As a result of Alanna's achievement, however, Kel is then able to become the first girl to train openly (and she insists on wearing dresses at dinner to ensure people don't forget that she's a girl).
  • In Robyn Bennis's Signal Airship series, Josette Dupre becomes the first woman to command an airship in Garnia's Air Signal Corp. The army began accepting women mainly due to manpower shortages, but they're technically only auxiliary officers (so can't command "real" officers) and are supposed to be dropped off before their airships enter combat (which is almost never practical). Josette, contrary to regulations, took command of a damaged airship and did well enough to get appointed to full command of new one, but the general forced to appoint her is strongly hostile (since her heroics saved the day when his battle plans couldn't). He attempts to sabotage her career.
  • Artemis Fowl: During a heated discussion with Commander Root, Holly accuses his endless complaints and dressing-downs of being solely based on the fact that she's female. He admits that this is so... but for an entirely opposite reason: As there are two females in the LEP Recon (and one is a bimbo limited to announcements who only got a job because she's descended from one of the fairies' kings), she has to be better than all others so more women will think of joining.
  • Honorverse: Lieutenant Abigail Owens is the first native-born Grayson female to ever hold military rank. Though she's more a case of sidestepping the ceiling — while she's officially part of the Grayson Space Navy, she went to Manticore's military academy and so far in the novels has been serving exclusively on Manticoran ships. Officially this is to let her gain experience before she eventually moves back to the GSN, but there's a certain amount of "make sure her eventual GSN superiors can't just shove her off into a more 'appropriate' female posting" going on as well.
  • The protagonist of The Helmsman Saga is the first Carescian to finish the Helmsman Academy by virtue of the Lowered Recruiting Standards law.
  • In Rex Stout's 1937 mystery The Hand In The Glove, a female private detective is not considered completely outrageous, but when two women try to start their own agency without a man in charge, it becomes a huge scandal, and the Bonner & Raffrey agency is criticized and mocked in the press.
  • In Red Storm Rising, there's Vice Admiral Richard Pipes, who is described as "the first black submariner to make three-star rank, a man who had paid his dues with performance as he'd climbed up the ladder in what had traditionally been a whites-only profession."
  • The Dreamblood Duology: Hanani is the first woman to be allowed to join the Sharers of Hananja because of her talent for Healing magic and is very aware of it. She binds her breasts and wears a male uniform at first, but realizes she's both setting a precedent and making herself miserable in an effort to placate people who still disapprove of her, gains some self-confidence, and switches back to women's clothing.
  • In The Berenstain Bears book "The Female Fullback", Bertha becomes the first girl to be on the school's soccer team.
  • The Black Magician Trilogy: Sonea is the first non-aristocrat to be accepted into Imardin's Wizarding School, solely because her innate magic is vastly too strong to risk leaving untrained. She finds herself mostly ostracized as a "slum girl" and obsessively dedicates herself to becoming as skilled as she is powerful, to make clear that she's earned her place there.
  • In Nickolai Of The North, Nickolai’s mother Ella becomes the first woman to compete in the elf kingdom’s sleigh races and the first woman to win them. Other elves are skeptical about her at first, but when she wins, they cheer for her heartily.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Ray Holt is the first gay man to reach the rank of captain. While the fact that he's both gay and black has exposed him to a fair bit of prejudice, his "rarity value" can still cause him problems even when people aren't being hostile - his long, unwanted spell in Public Relations was at least partly because the department thought he was a good way to show off their strides towards diversity.
  • Star Trek franchise (in order of internal chronology):
    • Star Trek: Enterprise: T'Pol is the first Vulcan to serve for any length of time on a human vessel (Jossing decades of Fanon that Spock was.) Another example is when Trip becomes, for lack of a better word, pregnant by an alien, he becomes not only the first recorded man to get pregnant, but the first human to get pregnant by a non-human.
    • Star Trek: Discovery: Saru is the first Kelpian in Starfleet.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Worf and Ro are respectively the first Klingon and first Bajoran in Starfleet (although Worf was brought up by humans).
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Nog becomes the first Ferengi in Starfleet, uniquely after having been a recurring non-military character for a long time.
  • Parodied on Saturday Night Live during the Baseball Strike of 1994 and 1995. They had a series of shorts shot as a documentary on Replacement Baseball. (To those who don't remember, that was when the teams brought in new players to replace the striking ones.) One short shows the breaking of the color barrier... a few minutes after they started hiring players. The gender barrier fell a few minutes later.
  • In Trust, one of the things that motivates Paul Getty III's kidnappers is that their boss is planning to have his son Francesco become the first boy from their village to go to university.
  • In Necessary Roughness, Rex Evans becomes the first openly-gay football player in the NFL (this was before Michael Sam came to prominence in real life.) Fortunately, his buddy TK supports him, if only because TK is an Attention Whore who realizes that being an ally will boost his profile.
  • On Mad Men, Peggy is the first female copy writer. She starts out simply feeding ideas to the male copywriters who then present the ideas as their own. During this time, she's paid as a secretary (a much lower salary) and expected to complete all of her secretarial work during billing hours and do copy writing in her free time. Later, she is promoted to junior copywriter, even though there are no male junior copywriters. Eventually, she is made a fully copywriter.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In WWE, there have been a few firsts in the company:
    • Bayley and Sasha Banks were the first women to compete in the main event of a WWE pay-per-view at NXT Takeover: Respect in 2015.
    • A year later, Sasha Banks faced Charlotte in the first ever women's hell in a cell match, which also main evented the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view.
    • Darren Young became the first openly gay WWE superstar to compete in the WWE.
    • In 1998, Jacqueline became the first African-American female to win the WWE Women's Championship, and in 2016, she became the first African-American woman to be inducted to the WWE hall of fame.
    • Chyna became the first woman to hold the Intercontinental Championship in October 1999. Months before, she was the first of three women in WWE history to compete in the Royal Rumble match. Beth Phoenix (in 2010) and Kharma (in 2012) were the second and third females respectively.
    • In a 2003 episode of 'Monday Night Raw', Lita faced Victoria in the first ever women's steel cage match.
    • Carmella won the first ever women's Money in the Bank Ladder match, in which the winner is guaranteed a title shot for the Women's Championship anytime that they want. James Elisworth actually won it for her.
    • The 2018 addition of the Royal Rumble with feature the first ever Women's Royal Rumble Match.

    Video Games 
  • In Sleeping Dogs, "Broken Nose" Jiang became the only female Red Pole in the Sun On Yee. She didn't so much prove herself to her male rivals as kill enough of them that they stopped arguing (which is a kind of proof, true).

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of Futurama has Leela become the first female pitcher in the professional blernsball league - but she's not actually any good at it, having been included because someone thought it would be funny. However, her poor performance has the unexpected effect of encouraging other women to get into the game, because they don't want her to be the last word on women in the sport.
  • In Jane and the Dragon, the titular character is in training to become the kingdom's first female knight (having won the right to train as a squire by rescuing a prince from a dragon).
  • In The Legend of Korra, Suyin calls Korra the first Avatar to learn metalbending. Not exactly a huge accomplishment, given that metalbending was invented seven decades prior and it's a sufficiently common skill among earthbenders that there's an entire city of them, but neither her predecessor Aang or the countless Avatars before them knew it was possible — metalbending was only invented toward the end of Aang's quest by Toph Bei Fong, an incredibly gifted earthbender.

    Real Life 

Feedback: 91 replies

Nov 19th 2017 at 10:47:55 PM

In the U.S., this barrier is usually called a "glass ceiling" because it's invisible but still very real.

Breaking The Glass Ceiling, to make it clear it's not talking about real ceilings?

Nov 20th 2017 at 5:30:25 AM

May involve Overly Narrow Superlative.

  • Artemis Fowl: During a heated discussion with Commander Root, Holly accuses his endless complaints and dressing-downs of being solely based on the fact that she's female. He admits that this is so... but for an entirely opposite reason: As there are two females in the LEP Recon (and one is a bimbo limited to announcements who only got a job because she's descended from one of the fairies' kings), she has to be better than all others so more women will think of joining.
  • In The Legend Of Korra, Suyin calls Korra the first Avatar to learn metalbending. Not exactly as an huge accomplishment, given that metalbending was invented seven decades prior and it's a sufficiently common skill among earthbenders that there's an entire city of them, but then her predecessor Aang never got the hang of it and the countless Avatars before them never knew it was possible.

Nov 20th 2017 at 5:35:57 AM

Is this really a common phrase? Personally I have only heard of "breaking the mold", I don't recall anything about breaking ceilings (glass or otherwise).

Nov 20th 2017 at 11:32:41 AM

The problem with adding "glass" would be that a lot of the barriers covered by this trope aren't invisible — they're formal and explicit, unlike the informal barriers that "glass ceiling" was coined to describe. As for how common the phrase is — it might vary from place to place, but it does seem to get Google hits, so it isn't something we'd be inventing. That said, perhaps there's some better name for this — I just haven't been able to think of one.

Nov 20th 2017 at 11:44:58 AM

Given this is primarily a character-trope as written, wouldn't "Ceiling Breaker" be a more fitting name?

Nov 20th 2017 at 7:32:39 PM

@Zu The Skunk, it really is. Breaking the mold is something different, too.

Nov 21st 2017 at 9:47:26 AM

@Arivine:

Breaking The Glass Ceiling, to make it clear it's not talking about real ceilings?

Pun intended? 😏

Anyway I agree with Arivine with Breaking The Glass Ceiling; Breaking A Ceiling sounds like There Was A Door.

Nov 21st 2017 at 11:53:17 AM

But many of the ceilings *aren't* glass. That term was created for unofficial, invisible barriers, but many (most?) of the ones covered by this trope are explicit and very visible. If "ceiling" on its own isn't suitable, I'd suggest we find some other title altogether (although I don't know what).

(Also, I agree with Larkmarn that if we did keep "ceiling", it should be rephrased to reflect this being a character trope.)

Nov 21st 2017 at 5:43:47 PM

Honorverse: Lieutenant Abigail Owens is the first native-born Grayson female to ever hold military rank. Though she's more a case of sidestepping the ceiling — while she's officially part of the Grayson Space Navy, she went to Manticore's military academy and so far in the novels has been serving exclusively on Manticoran ships. Officially this is to let her gain experience before she eventually moves back to the GSN, but there's a certain amount of "make sure her eventual GSN superiors can't just shove her off into a more 'appropriate' female posting" going on as well.

(And count one more vote for calling this "Ceiling Breaker")

Nov 21st 2017 at 6:47:09 PM

Edit made: Adjusted a folder. There were two Western Animation folders, and one of them should be a Video Game folder.

Nov 21st 2017 at 7:45:04 PM

When I heard this idiom for the first time years ago, it reminded me of women in the 1980s wearing business suits with massive shoulder pads.

Nov 21st 2017 at 8:27:37 PM

The name is really confusing. When I first saw it I thought it was about a character crashing into a ceiling. Maybe Breaking A Record?

Nov 22nd 2017 at 8:36:18 PM

Breaking A Record would be what happens a lot at the Olympics, it really doesn't fit this trope.

Nov 27th 2017 at 9:54:50 PM

The protagonist of The Helmsman Saga is the first Carescian to finish the Helmsman Academy by virtue of the Lowered Recruiting Standards law.

Nov 28th 2017 at 2:28:35 AM

Star Trek franchise (in order of internal chronology): Star Trek Enterprise: T'Pol is the first Vulcan to serve for any length of time on a human vessel (Jossing decades of Fanon that Spock was) Star Trek The Next Generation: Worf and Ro are respectively the first Klingon and first Bajoran in Starfleet (although Worf was brought up by humans). Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Nog becomes the first Ferengi in Starfleet, uniquely after having been a recurring non-military character for a long time.

Nov 29th 2017 at 7:10:11 AM

Live Action Television

  • Parodied on Saturday Night Live during the Baseball Strike of 1994 and 1995. They had a series of shorts shot as a documentary on Replacement Baseball. (To those who don't remember, that was when the teams brought in new players to replace the striking ones.) One short shows the breaking of the color barrier...a few minutes after they started hiring players. The gender barrier fell a few minutes later.

Dec 1st 2017 at 5:04:31 PM

^^ From an out-of-universe perspective Uhura counts; she even had the first interracial kiss on TV.

Dec 1st 2017 at 10:57:11 PM

Literature:

  • In Warrior Cats, the Clans believe that only Clanborn cats make good warriors, and taunt Fireheart for having been born a kittypet (pet owned by humans), but he eventually becomes the first kittypet-born Clan leader in the Clans' memory. In the second series, Mothwing becomes the first rogue-born medicine cat (The Medic / her Clan's spiritual leader), and Firestar was even used as an example when cats protested her becoming a warrior: "If a kittypet can become a Clan leader, why should rogues not be welcome as warriors?"

Dec 2nd 2017 at 3:26:35 AM

  • Zootopia has Judy Hopps, who's the first bunny to become a police officer in Zootopia (a force normally comprised of megafauna and/or predators). As a result, people initially don't take her seriously.

Dec 2nd 2017 at 5:27:44 AM

Animated Film

  • Mulan: Mulan at the end is asked by the Emperor to join his Council. It's downplayed because she refuses the offer because she wants to go home, but even the job offer itself is groundbreaking because up until now the Council was reserved for men.

Dec 2nd 2017 at 9:06:04 AM

  • Also from Discworld and the Watch:
    • In Feet Of Clay, Dorfl is not only the first golem to join the Watch, he's also the first to be able to choose to do so, as Carrot freed him from his Servant Race status by including his bill of sale along with his chem. What is more important to the rest of the world is that he's the first ever golem to have a voice, as he was rebuilt with a mouth. The religious community are particularly unhappy with it, as their usual trump-card argument is entirely ineffective on a golem made of clay.
    • In Thud, Sally is the first vampire in the watch, but she gets in due to the Temperance League and Vetinari forcing her on Vimes (despite his well-known aversion to vampires). When he discovers she's a spy for the Low King, he keeps her on the force because she is useful, but is happy that this means he won't have any more people forced on him).

Dec 3rd 2017 at 3:51:07 PM

The term is Glass Ceiling. The trope should be called Breaking A Glass Ceiling or Breaking The Glass Ceiling.

Glass doesn't refer to "invisibility." Everyone can see glass.

It refers to "transparency." You can SEE THROUGH to the other side, you know the achievement exists, you know you could be just as qualified to be on the other side, but you can't GO THROUGH to get here until you break the glass.

Dec 3rd 2017 at 6:20:48 PM

The question is whether "glass ceiling" is a term used outside the US.

We could probably use Breaking The Glass Ceiling anyway, just adding a bit to the trope description to explain the phrase.

Dec 3rd 2017 at 7:34:04 PM

@acrobox: If you read up a bit on the history and origins of the term "glass ceiling", I'm afraid you'll find that you're mistaken. The invisibility and non-explicitness of the "glass ceiling" was integral to the concept as first expressed, and it was used specifically for a situation where formal barriers had already been eliminated. Perhaps the term has become more general since then, but I haven't noticed it.

That said, maybe there's consensus to use "glass ceiling" anyway. How do we tell? Should there be a crowner?

Jan 10th 2018 at 6:12:39 PM

  • On Mad Men, Peggy is the first female copy writer. She starts out simply feeding ideas to the male copywriters who then present the ideas as their own. During this time, she's paid as a secretary (a much lower salary) and expected to complete all of her secretarial work during billing hours and do copy writing in her free time. Later, she is promoted to junior copywriter, even though there are no male junior copywriters. Eventually, she is made a fully copywriter.

Jan 10th 2018 at 8:05:27 PM

Don't know if this counts

  • Django Unchained: Dr. Schultz, in his plan to get Django's lover back from Calvin Candie's house, suggests Django to pretend to be a black slaver (the story is set in Deep South before the American Civil War). Played with in that Django points out that a black slaver would be "even lower than the head house nigger, and that's pretty fucking low."

Jan 10th 2018 at 9:36:10 PM

  • In Bright, Nick Jakoby is the first orc police officer in the Los Angeles Police Department, in an alternate Earth where orcs and elves live alongside regular humans.

Jan 10th 2018 at 9:50:35 PM

Name Change Needed.

As said before, It's not clear it's a metaphor.

Breaking A Minority Ceiling?

Better to totally remove metaphor?

Minority Trailblazer? Minority First?

Jan 11th 2018 at 10:39:18 AM

     Professional Wrestling 
  • In WWE, there have been a few firsts in the company:
    • Bayley and Sasha Banks were the first women to compete in the main event of a WWE pay-per-view at NXT Takeover: Respect in 2015.
    • A year later, Sasha Banks faced Charlotte in the first ever women's hell in a cell match, which also main evented the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view.
    • Darren Young became the first openly gay WWE superstar to compete in the WWE.
    • In 1998, Jacqueline became the first African-American female to win the WWE Women's Championship, and in 2016, she became the first African-American woman to be inducted to the WWE hall of fame.
    • Chyna became the first woman to hold the Intercontinental Championship in October 1999. Months before, she was the first of three women in WWE history to compete in the Royal Rumble match. Beth Phoenix (in 2010) and Kharma (in 2012) were the second and third females respectively.
    • In a 2003 episode of 'Monday Night Raw', Lita faced Victoria in the first ever women's steel cage match.
    • Carmella won the first ever women's Money in the Bank Ladder match, in which the winner is guaranteed a title shot for the Women's Championship anytime that they want. James Elisworth actually won it for her.
    • The 2018 addition of the Royal Rumble with feature the first ever Women's Royal Rumble Match.

Jan 12th 2018 at 4:03:30 AM

^^ - Sounds way too similar to Last Of Their Kind? Which is a redirect to Last Of His Kind.

Jan 12th 2018 at 10:40:57 AM

Since the examples mostly focus on single characters, I'm for lakingsif's suggestion Cieling Breaker

Jan 12th 2018 at 10:58:56 AM

. . . possibly retracting that. There's another draft on the launch pad with that title already—and it's literal.

Jan 16th 2018 at 5:10:38 AM

Replaced garbage text characters (caused by a non-standard text character) with a standard text character.

Jan 16th 2018 at 10:09:48 AM

Does my example count?

Mar 27th 2018 at 12:09:17 PM

Literature:

  • In Rex Stout's 1937 mystery The Hand In The Glove, a female private detective is not considered completely outrageous, but when two women try to start their own agency without a man in charge, it becomes a huge scandal, and the Bonner & Raffrey agency is criticized and mocked in the press.

Mar 27th 2018 at 12:11:27 PM

BTW, might I suggest Breaking The Job Ceiling? "Glass" is overly-specific—that usually refers to women in jobs where the barriers are not visible.

May 18th 2018 at 10:59:12 PM

When the draft maker said the barrier is explicit, he meant that there are actually written laws that (someone of certain attribute) are not allowed to (do a certain thing).

May 19th 2018 at 4:39:10 AM

No edits have happened in 4 months. This is up for grabs.

May 19th 2018 at 6:54:28 PM

Comic Books

  • In Top Ten, Joe Pi is the first officer from the Ninth Parallel (an all-robot world) to serve in the Tenth Precinct. Since Neopolis still has... issues with its robot population, he initially faces a lot of hostility with his fellow officers.

Live Action TV

  • In Trust, one of the things that motivates Paul Getty III's kidnappers is that their boss is planning to have his son Francesco become the first boy from their village to go to university.

May 19th 2018 at 7:51:21 PM

@Dravencour - Maybe add a notice that you've grabbed this?

And title still needs to change...

May 19th 2018 at 11:47:20 PM

my vote is still to use the term Glass Ceiling somewhere in the title. mostly because every other title is an attempt to find something as clear, but without using that term.

Just say it straight because its clear, and any nuance we need can put in the description.

May 20th 2018 at 2:02:59 AM

^ the ceiling here isn't always a "clear" one. Sometimes even the officials are in on the "attributism".

Jul 24th 2018 at 1:16:48 PM

Two month bump.

Can we just call this Breaking The Glass Ceiling or just Glass Ceiling, as it's a common idiom? And, pun not intended, it's quite clear?

Jul 24th 2018 at 3:00:03 PM

Ro Laren was not the first Bajoran in Starfleet. Nobody ever said that she was. Her first episode even specified that there are other Bajorans in Starfleet.

Jul 24th 2018 at 10:59:47 PM

Glass ceiling is a very common term, and makes it much more readily apparent what this trope actually is.

Jul 25th 2018 at 1:38:52 AM

^ the draft maker insists the ceiling is not "glass".

Although, I think it can count cases of both glass ceilings and hard ceilings, but still, the name can't be "glass ceiling" for that reason.

Jul 25th 2018 at 2:39:26 AM

I think it's better to note the distinction between glass vs other ceilings in the trope description, in individual examples, and through alternate names for the trope. "Glass ceiling" is a common term. It has a dictionary definition. It's associated, often very broadly, with barriers to the advancement of women and minorities in various fields, explicit or otherwise. It might not be 100% accurate in every case, but it's recognizable, which seems like the more valuable kind of clarity in a trope name. Tropes Are Flexible, so the degree to which the ceiling is or isn't glass is something that can be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Nov 5th 2018 at 6:12:33 PM

I'd like to take over this draft, but it's not letting me edit it...

Nov 5th 2018 at 8:14:37 PM

^^ But trope names should reflect - and set - the hard part of the trope. If we don't intend the "glass" to be the hard (and thus, inflexible) part of the trope, we shouldn't use it in the name.

Nov 6th 2018 at 2:05:28 PM

The hardest, most inflexible part of a trope is still going to be pretty flexible, and entries are going to need flex in different places depending on the example in question, because stories use tropes broadly, and stretch and play with them constantly. The trope name should be recognizable, first and foremost. "Glass ceiling" establishes the concept well enough that if the dictionary definition precludes cases where actual laws and regulations exist, I'd argue that it's being beholden to the dictionary usage that's causing the problem here.

How transparent a ceiling is is going to be a matter of time and historical perspective, but the term itself is common enough that I don't think we should be tripped up by the literal meanings of "glass" and "ceiling" in a concept that's already a metaphor.

Nov 6th 2018 at 4:23:00 AM

^ Beware of Square Peg Round Trope, though. Your way of speaking skew dangerously close to that.

But I concur; I guess this can be safely called Glass Ceiling.

Nov 7th 2018 at 5:48:41 PM

I don't think every trope needs to be broad or that every potential title is going to run into these issues. It's just got to be handled case by case.

Nov 16th 2018 at 8:10:17 PM

Okay, I think I've got all the suggested examples up. Any more additions?

Jan 7th 2019 at 8:12:48 PM

In hopes of maybe getting this closer to launch, I've created a crowner for the title (or at least, I think I have — it's the first time I've tried). I've added every suggestion I noticed, but may have missed one or two. It's here.

Jan 12th 2019 at 8:47:31 AM

In Red Storm Rising, there's Vice Admiral Richard Pipes, who is described as "the first black submariner to make three-star rank, a man who had paid his dues with performance as he'd climbed up the ladder in what had traditionally been a whites-only profession."

Jan 11th 2019 at 10:31:59 AM

I voted in the title crowner.

Jan 13th 2019 at 11:14:41 AM

I would add that "breaking a glass ceiling" or "breaking through a glass ceiling" would probably be a better title.

Jan 13th 2019 at 11:23:25 AM

Voted on the Crowner. Also, the description should mention Never A Self Made Woman on some cases when the ceiling is broken due to previous (male) conections.

Jan 21st 2019 at 6:15:27 PM

@Luke_The_Great, @naturalironist and @El Buen Cuate: Suggestions added — thanks.

@MGD 107: I'm not completely sure, but I believe it's possible to add new proposed names to the crowner if you like.

Jan 21st 2019 at 6:29:59 PM

Jan 23rd 2019 at 9:28:39 PM

^^ Yeah, it's possible for anyone to add new proposed names to a crowner. I've done that a few times to other crowners before.

Jan 24th 2019 at 1:46:15 AM

Not to be confused with breaking literal glass ceilings. (Or glass roofs, as they were)

Feb 2nd 2019 at 7:51:18 PM

Crowner votes seem to have been static for a while, with "Breaking The Glass Ceiling" currently seven ahead of all other options (with all other contenders being in the negatives). Any more votes (or options to be added)? If not, I guess it should finally launch.

Feb 2nd 2019 at 8:29:25 PM

Added a namespace for WWE and removed a pothole from my Dreamblood Duology example that turns out not to have been an actual trope. Also, hatted.

Feb 2nd 2019 at 9:30:54 PM

Before launching you need to see which indexes would this trope fit into. I think that this could go into Token Index, since the fact that they are breaking a ceiling means they will be the only person of an specific group.

Feb 2nd 2019 at 10:49:24 PM

Perhaps also Prejudice Tropes, since the ceiling is an application of prejudice.

Feb 4th 2019 at 7:15:02 AM

The draft was rogue-launched by a non-participant, and has been unlaunched.

Feb 4th 2019 at 12:44:59 PM

  • In The Berenstain Bears book "The Female Fullback", Bertha becomes the first girl to be on the school's soccer team.
  • Another Enterprise example: when Trip becomes, for lack of a better word, pregnant by an alien, he becomes not only the first recorded man to get pregnant, but the first human to get pregnant by a non-human.
  • In an ad for a brand of chips called Grain Waves, a grain becomes the first of his kind to grow up to be a chip instead of bread or porridge like his family.

Feb 5th 2019 at 6:10:00 PM

Subverted in Sky High 2005, the main character, Will Stronghold, goes to a Superhero School, and when is shown that he doesn't have any superpowers he is sent to the "Hero Support Class" (Sidekicks), in the middle of the movie he actually develop superpowers, and his friends say that he now is opening new roads by being a superstrong sidekick, then he is informed that he was transfered to the superheroes class.

Feb 8th 2019 at 9:14:24 PM

There are enough examples to folderize this now.

Feb 8th 2019 at 9:23:33 PM

I've just done so — thanks for reminding. And unless there are any objections, or a last-minute burst of votes in the crowner, I'll probably launch it in the next few days.

Feb 9th 2019 at 5:11:05 PM

Does the Django example count?

Feb 10th 2019 at 6:28:16 PM

How Crowners Work says that the minimum amount of votes is usually 10-15 combined votes for the option with the most votes cast. But in this case, I'd say the consensus is probably clear enough anyway.

Feb 13th 2019 at 7:27:32 PM

With regard to whether the Django example counts — since I'm not familiar with the film, I don't really know. Is being a black slaver presented as somehow rising past prejudice, or is it just presented as unusual?

With regard to the crowner — there's nine votes for the frontrunner now, so if we can get one more, I guess it'll be within the guidelines to close it (especially since there doesn't seem to be any real dissent — just lack of activity). Maybe a few more bumps will do it.

Feb 13th 2019 at 9:07:13 PM

^ Unusual but it can happen. It's supposed to take place before American Civil War where black racism and slavery is still the rage.

Feb 14th 2019 at 1:00:34 PM

Well, I'll add it for now — if people disagree, it can always be taken out again.

Feb 14th 2019 at 1:05:28 PM

The crowner now has ten votes in favour of the frontrunner, and none against. Unless there are any objections, I'll consider that a consensus and launch under that title.

(I don't know how to formally close the crowner, though — since it's about a proposed trope rather than an existing one, it isn't hooked to a Trope Repair Shop forum thread, so I don't know how to get a moderator's attention.)

Feb 14th 2019 at 4:35:23 PM

  • The Black Magician Trilogy: Sonea is the first non-aristocrat to be accepted into Imardin's Wizarding School, solely because her innate magic is vastly too strong to risk leaving untrained. She finds herself mostly ostracized as a "slum girl" and obsessively dedicates herself to becoming as skilled as she is powerful, to make clear that she's earned her place there.

Feb 15th 2019 at 5:32:45 AM

^^ To my best knowledge, it should be fine without formally closing the crowner. Only mods can do it and if I'm not mistaken, the crowners still have some bugs.

Great trope and great work on it. Tossing my hat, too.

Feb 15th 2019 at 10:20:05 AM

Literature

  • In Nickolai Of The North, Nickolais mother Ella becomes the first woman to compete in the elf kingdoms sleigh races and the first woman to win them. Other elves are skeptical about her at first, but when she wins, they cheer for her heartily.

Feb 15th 2019 at 1:21:33 PM

Well, we've got twelve votes for (and no votes against) Breaking The Glass Ceiling in the crowner — so I'll go ahead and launch it under that title.

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