Though several women are familiar with the concept of the glass ceiling and perhaps have figured out how to shatter it, there’s yet another metaphorical obstacle for women looking to advance their careers: the glass cliff.
A term initially put forward by Michelle Ryan and Alexander Haslam of the University of Exeter, the glass cliff is characterized as a company appointing a female executive as an agent of change when they are facing a challenging period in business. When these women leaders aren’t able to turn things around, the blame is often placed on them despite being essentially set up to fail. It’s a cruel paradox that lends to the fact that women CEOs are 45% more likely to be fired from CEO roles than men.
Capable women who want to lead should be well aware of the glass cliff phenomenon before taking on a risky executive role. By researching company reports and industry trends, they may be able to better sense risk. Similarly, factoring risk into salary negotiations can help secure an appropriate salary for a tricky leadership position. Women facing the glass cliff should also feel comfortable walking away if the risk is too great, as being set up for failure can ultimately be worse than turning down a precarious role.