Uncovering the Glass Cliff: Women’s leadership roles in times of crisis

Businesswoman Risky Business Concept

Past event — 1 November 2017

Kühne Logistics University
Grosser Grasbrook 17, 20457 Hamburg, Room Auditorium

Spoken language

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Prof. Michelle Ryan

Professor of Social and Organisational Psychology

University of Exeter, UK

We cordially invite you to a public lecture on women and leadership with the renowned scientist Prof. Michelle Ryan from Exeter University (UK). The evening will have two parts. First, Prof. Ryan will start off with a keynote covering her extensive research on the glass cliff phenomenon, i.e. that women are more likely to be appointed to precarious leadership posts compared to men (18:00-19:30). This will be followed by drinks and snacks in the foyer, where Prof. Niels Van Quaquebeke and Prof. Christian Tröster will facilitate some open space themes around the topic for those who are inspired to stay and discuss (19:30-20:30).
While attendance is free of charge, we only have limited seats available. So, please register beforehand with Birgit Kappert (see below).


Research into the glass cliff examines what happens when women begin to take on leadership roles in increasing numbers. Extending the metaphor of the glass ceiling, 'the glass cliff' describes an leadership phenomenon whereby women are more likely to be found in leadership positions that are associated with a greater risk of failure and criticism - think Theresa May and Brexit. This talk will describe a decades worth of research which has uncovered the phenomenon of the glass cliff looking at archival research into company performance, experimental laboratory studies, and interviews with female leaders. We will also examine some of the underlying psychological processes: stereotypes, support networks, and organisational strategy. Implications for gender equality initiatives and for women who are aiming for leadership roles will be discussed.


Michelle Ryan is a Professor of Social and Organisational Psychology at the University of Exeter, UK and a (part-time) Professor of Diversity at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. She holds a European Research Council Consolidator Grant to investigate how context constrains women’s careers choices. With Alex Haslam, she has uncovered the phenomenon of the glass cliff, whereby women (and members of other minority groups) are more likely to be placed in leadership positions that are risky or precarious. Research into the glass cliff was named by the New York Times as one of the top 100 ideas that shaped 2008 and the term “The glass cliff” was shortlisted as word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016.

More info about Prof. Michelle Ryan


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Birgit Kappert

Program Manager