Avoiding the Glass Cliff

Law faculties are undergoing financial and status constraints that increase the risk of women academics being subjected to glass cliff appointments. Glass cliff appointments are the placement of women in academic management positions in times of reduction of budget or status, or other situation of crisis. Women are appointed in part because of stereotypical conceptions about their supposed conciliatory style of management. Academic management positions suffer a corresponding decline in status, merit and prestige, as they have become more time-consuming due to an significant increase in meetings and other administrative tasks, thereby reducing the ability of women academics to complete high level research. Helen Peterson conducted a study of Swedish women in academic management and found that: “The problem with glass cliff appointments is that they come with an increased risk of failure and the leader being held accountable and blamed for negative events. Glass cliff appointments also tend to involve less authority, to be less likely to lead on to more senior appointments, offer less material rewards and be less valued in the organization. Another problem is that glass cliff appointments are particularly stressful for women and involve more interpersonal conflict.”

Her article is available here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1741143214563897

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