Hillary Clinton
U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton arrives at Burke Lakefront airport in Cleveland, Ohio U.S., October 21, 2016.Reuters

The phrase 'glass ceiling' has gained immense popularity during this year's United States presidential election, thanks to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. She is the first woman presidential candidate to be declared a presidential nominee in the history of the United States.

The term 'glass ceiling' is used to describe an unseen, although breakable barrier, which restricts one from rising up the corporate or, in this case, a political ladder regardless of their achievements and qualifications.

Where did the term originate from?
The origin of the term is still not clear. However, the term was made famous by its use in news articles and books. Reports state that the term rose to popularity after the Wall Street Journal published a special news report in 1986 called "The Glass Ceiling: Why Women Can't Seem to Break The Invisible Barrier That Blocks Them from the Top Jobs." The news piece was written by Carol Hymowitz and Timothy Schellhardt.

However, the same phrase was used two years earlier by the then editor of Working Woman magazine in a quote in Adweek. She also used the same phrase in a book she edited, which was called "The Working Woman Report: Succeeding in Business in the '80s."

How is it important in this US election?
If the Republican presidential candidate becomes the US president, she will be shattering the ultimate glass ceiling that's been in place over the years. Eight years ago, Clinton was very close to achieving the feat by garnering 18 million votes, but she lost to then Senator Barack Obama.

Clinton, at her concession speech, had talked about her lifelong struggle to overcome barriers to women, "Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it ... and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time."