The paradox of being on the glass cliff: why do women accept risky leadership positions?

The paradox of being on the glass cliff: why do women accept risky leadership positions? PurposeRecent evidence from glass cliff research suggests that women are more willing than men to accept risky leadership positions. The purpose of this paper (based on three studies) is to reveal and resolve the apparent paradox that women are more risk averse than men yet end up in risky leadership positions.Design/methodology/approachIn Study I, risk attitudes of 125 participants were surveyed to understand gender differences in risk taking. In two experimental vignette studies, 119 university students (Study II) and 109 working adults (Study III) were offered a leadership position in either a risky or successful company and asked to rate their willingness to accept the job.FindingsTogether, the results showed that although women are generally more risk averse than men, women who scored low on career self-efficacy were more likely to perceive a risky job as a promotional opportunity and were therefore more willing to accept such a job. These findings shed light on the role of women’s career decision making in the glass cliff phenomenon.Originality/valueGlass cliff research has focused almost exclusively on organizational decision makers. The authors aim to better understand the glass cliff phenomenon by incorporating the perspective of job seekers. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Career Development International Emerald Publishing

The paradox of being on the glass cliff: why do women accept risky leadership positions?

Career Development International, Volume 23 (4): 30 – Aug 13, 2018

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1362-0436
DOI
10.1108/CDI-01-2018-0024
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeRecent evidence from glass cliff research suggests that women are more willing than men to accept risky leadership positions. The purpose of this paper (based on three studies) is to reveal and resolve the apparent paradox that women are more risk averse than men yet end up in risky leadership positions.Design/methodology/approachIn Study I, risk attitudes of 125 participants were surveyed to understand gender differences in risk taking. In two experimental vignette studies, 119 university students (Study II) and 109 working adults (Study III) were offered a leadership position in either a risky or successful company and asked to rate their willingness to accept the job.FindingsTogether, the results showed that although women are generally more risk averse than men, women who scored low on career self-efficacy were more likely to perceive a risky job as a promotional opportunity and were therefore more willing to accept such a job. These findings shed light on the role of women’s career decision making in the glass cliff phenomenon.Originality/valueGlass cliff research has focused almost exclusively on organizational decision makers. The authors aim to better understand the glass cliff phenomenon by incorporating the perspective of job seekers.

Journal

Career Development InternationalEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 13, 2018

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