Haslam, S. A. & Ryan, M. K. (2008). The road to the glass cliff: Differences in the perceived suitability of men and women for leadership positions in succeeding and failing organizations. Leadership Quarterly, 19(5), 530-546.
Abstract: Research into gender and leadership has tended to focus on the inequalities that women encounter while trying to climb the corporate ladder, with particular emphasis on the role played by the so-called glass ceiling. However, recent archival evidence has identified an additional hurdle that women must often overcome once they are in leadership positions: the glass cliff [Ryan, M. K., & Haslam, S. A. (2005a). The glass cliff: Evidence that women are over-represented in precarious leadership positions. British Journal of Management, 16, 81–90; Ryan, M. K. & Haslam, S. A. (2007). The glass cliff: Exploring the dynamics surrounding women's appointment to precarious leadership positions. Academy of Management Review]. This refers to the phenomenon whereby women are more likely than men to be appointed to leadership positions associated with increased risk of failure and criticism because these positions are more likely to involve management of organizational units that are in crisis. This paper presents three experimental studies (Ns = 95, 85, 83) that represent the first experimental investigations of the glass cliff phenomenon. In these, management graduates (Study 1), high-school students (Study 2) or business leaders (Study 3) selected a leader for a hypothetical organization whose performance was either improving or declining. Consistent with predictions, results indicate that the likelihood of a female candidate being selected ahead of an equally qualified male candidate increased when the organization's performance was declining rather than improving. Study 3 also provided evidence that glass cliff appointments are associated with beliefs that they (a) suit the distinctive leadership abilities of women, (b) provide women with good leadership opportunities and (c) are particularly stressful for women. These findings define an important agenda for future research.
Hewlett, S. A. (2007). Off-ramps and on-ramps: Keeping talented women on the road to success. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
From the Publisher: With talent shortages looming over the next decade, what can companies do to attract and retain the large number of professional women who are forced off the career highway? By documenting the successful efforts of a group of cutting-edge global companies to retain talented women and reintegrate them if they've already left, "Off-Ramps and On-Ramps" answers this critical question. Working closely with companies such as Ernst & Young, Goldman Sachs, Time Warner, General Electric, and others, author Sylvia Ann Hewlett identifies what works and why. Based on firsthand experience with these companies, along with extensive data that provides the most comprehensive and nuanced portrait of women's career paths, this book documents the actions forward-thinking companies must take to reverse the female brain drain and ensure their access to talent over the long term.
Phelan, J. E., Moss-Racusin, C. A., & Rudman, L. A. (2008). Competent yet out in the cold: Shifting criteria for hiring reflect backlash toward agentic women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 32, 406-413.
Abstract: [Authors] present evidence that shifting hiring criteria reflects backlash toward agentic (“masterful”) women ( Rudman, 1998). Participants (N= 428) evaluated male or female agentic or communal managerial applicants on dimensions of competence, social skills, and hireability. Consistent with past research, agentic women were perceived as highly competent but deficient in social skills, compared with agentic men. New to the present research, social skills predicted hiring decisions more than competence for agentic women; for all other applicants, competence received more weight than social skills. Thus, evaluators shifted the job criteria away from agentic women's strong suit (competence) and toward their perceived deficit (social skills) to justify hiring discrimination. The implications of these findings for women's professional success are discussed.
Sands, R. G. (1998). Gender and the perception of diversity and intimidation among university students. Sex Roles, 39(9-10), 801-815.
Abstract: This study investigated gender differences in the perceptions of university students about admissions and curriculum policies around diversity, and the experience of intimidation. A random sample of 340 students were interviewed by telephone. The participants were 54% male, 46% female; and 18% African American, 5% Hispanic, 19% Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 58% Caucasian. The analysis found that more women than men experienced intimidation based on gender, religion, and academic ability, and that much of the intimidation is attributed to other students. Women were more supportive than men of admissions policies that have social goals. Two sociodemographic characteristics (African American, female) were associated with support for courses that emphasize cultural diversity among undergraduates. Sexist messages from the broader society communicated by students and others in the academic environment and internalized by women—as well as the diffusion effect across the domains of gender, academic ability, and religion—explain the results.