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Our research on CEOs in the Fortune 500 finds that women leaders face two significant challenges: the “glass cliff” and the “savior effect”. First, we find that women are more likely than men to be appointed CEO to struggling firms or firms in crisis. This phenomenon is termed the “glass cliff” because it suggests that when women are appointed to top positions these positions are often precarious or risky. Second, we find that when firms struggle under the leadership of women CEOs, these leaders are likely to be replaced by men. We term this phenomenon the “savior effect” because when organizations struggle under the leadership of women, decision makers often revert to more traditional leaders who are perceived to be capable of “saving” the organization. Our research finds strong and significant evidence for both the glass cliff and the savior effect for women leaders. Overall, women leaders face greater challenges and are given fewer opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities than their male counterparts.
Utah State University
Jill Abramson, glass cliff, firing
USU Jon M. Huntsman School of Business; Cook, Alison; and Glass, Christy, "In Jill Abramson's Firing, Was the 'Glass Cliff' to Blame?" (2014). Jon M. Huntsman School of Business News Collection. 31.