Who’s on the executive glass cliff?
Tran, Ny Mia
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Recent research found a greater preference for female leaders than male leaders during times of riskiness and uncertainty. This phenomenon was argued as a subsequent form of employment bias to the glass ceiling—later identified as the glass cliff (Ryan & Haslam, 2005, 2007). However, the novelty of the glass cliff development attributed to a narrow focus on women with a few exceptions that extended to blacks (e.g., Cook & Glass, 2008). More often than not, gender and racial discourse as well as research exclude black women. This study explored the glass cliff as a complex, implicit processing model of intersecting identities (race and gender) and the influence of assigned leadership traits. A policy- capturing design was used to capture glass cliff decisions for a fictitious vacant executive position in two crisis contexts: financial and ethical crisis. One of the research questions focused on how black women fare under the glass cliff model relative to white women and black men, given her multiple disadvantage identities. Results reproduced the glass cliff as a gender bias; however cross-examination of race and gender results also supported black women’s unique reality due to her distinct social location and leadership model. Black women received greater positive selection evaluations in times of financial crisis than her gender and racial counterparts. In contrast, black men received the lowest evaluations in both type of crisis. However, when leadership traits were considered white women received greater positive evaluations than black women. The implications of these finding to understanding glass cliff decision-makings are discussed.