This article reports the results from a 12-month study of teachers' career progress in schools in England and the ways in which headteachers and teachers perceive that age, disability, ethnicity and gender affect teachers' career prospects. Many teachers thought that they had been promoted because of their personal traits, such as drive, confidence and ability, and there was little evidence of direct discrimination. However, certain groups of teachers, for example part-time and supply staff, mature entrants to teaching, members of minority ethnic groups, teachers with disabilities, older male and female teachers, female teachers with children, all believed that their personal characteristics had disadvantaged their career progression. The study offers some insight into the structural constraints that hinder teachers' careers and how greater diversity among promoted staff in schools might be achieved. The implications for school leaders are highlighted. (Contains 2 figures and 2 tables.