Research into the glass cliff examines what happens when women begin to take on leadership roles in increasing numbers. Extending the metaphor of the glass ceiling, 'the glass cliff' describes a leadership phenomenon whereby women are more likely to be found in leadership positions that are associated with a greater risk of failure and criticism - think Theresa May and Brexit. This talk will describe a decade worth of research which has uncovered the phenomenon of the glass cliff looking at archival research into company performance, experimental laboratory studies, and interviews with female leaders. We will also examine some of the underlying psychological processes: stereotypes, support networks, and organisational strategy. Implications for gender equality initiatives and for women who are aiming for leadership roles will be discussed.
Professor Michelle Ryan
Michelle Ryan is a Professor of Social and Organisational Psychology at the University of Exeter, UK and a (part-time) Professor of Diversity at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. She holds a European Research Council Consolidator Grant to investigate how context constrains women’s careers choices. With Alex Haslam, she has uncovered the phenomenon of the glass cliff, whereby women (and members of other minority groups) are more likely to be placed in leadership positions that are risky or precarious. Research into the glass cliff was shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Supplement Research Project of the Year in 2005 and was named by the New York Times as one of the ideas that shaped 2008 and the term “The glass cliff” was shortlisted as word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016. Click here for a brief video introduction to the glass cliff. Michelle is also involved in projects examining (a) gender trouble and the gender binary (with Thekla Morgenroth); (b) women's ambition in the workplace (with Kim Peters and Alex Haslam); (c) the role of identity in understanding work-life balance (with Kim Peters, Thekla Morgenroth, Floor Rink and Janka Stoker); (d) men's support for gender equality (with Antonia Sudkaemper, Teri Kirby, and Thekla Morgenroth); (e) gender differences in risk taking (with Thekla Morgenroth and Cordelia Fine); (f) leadership succession (with Nik Steffens, Floor Rink, and Janka Stoker); and workplace intersectionality (with Victoria Opara and Ruth Sealy).
The Athena Swan Annual Lecture is a lunchtime event open to all men and women at the University of Bath, staff and students. The lecture takes us on a journey through the speakers' research, followed by an insight into her journey to academia including any obstacles and enablers encountered along the way. The presentation will be followed by time for questions, discussion and networking. Refreshments provided after the talk, tea, coffee and pastries. Attendance at this event WILL form part of your iTrent Personal Development Plan. The event is free, but you must register on Eventbrite to secure your place.