The glass cliff: Differences in perceived suitability and leadership ability of men and women for leadership positions in high and poor performing companies


Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences, Department of Business Administration, Turkey

Approval Date: 2011

Student: ESRA UYAR

Supervisor: FERİDE PINAR ACAR

Abstract:

The purpose of this thesis was to investigate perception of glass cliff in a Turkish sample. Glass cliff refers to a phenomenon whereby women are over-represented in risky leadership positions. Thus, the current study explored the effect of company performance and candidate gender on perceived suitability and on perceived leadership ability of the candidate for the leadership position. The thesis also examined moderating effects of ambivalent sexism (hostile and benevolent sexism) on the relationship between company performance and perceived suitability as well as on the relationship between company performance and perceived leadership ability of the female candidate. The data were collected from 167 MBA students through quantitative methods. The results of the analyses indicated that compared to an equally qualified male candidate, female candidate was perceived as more suitable and more able as a leader when the company performance was declining. Moreover, the female candidate was perceived as more able when the company performance was declining rather than improving. Participants evaluated the male candidate as more suitable when the company performance was improving rather than declining. The results of the moderation analyses revealed that declining company performance predicted an increase in perceived suitability and leadership ability of the female candidate for the participants who have low benevolent sexism scores. The major contributions of the present study are (1) examining the perception of glass cliff phenomenon for the first time in Turkey, and (2) showing the impact of benevolent sexism on glass cliff.