“Any society that fails to harness the energy and creativity of its women is at a huge disadvantage in the modern world” – Tian Wei
From the above quote, we can interpret that the capabilities of women are imperative for the success of the economy in today’s world. They cannot be sidelined from the mainstream development.
We all know about the glass ceiling, but what is the glass cliff? How does it hamper women and make them vulnerable? A lot of questions could be coming to mind. So, a glass cliff refers to giving the executive role to women in an organization during the times of crisis, when there is an extremely high probability of failure.
According to the world data, it is observed that many women at superior positions have been able to counter glass ceiling but are later trapped in glass cliff. Glass cliff was originally recognized by academics Michelle Ryan and Alex Haslam back in 2005. They presented an evidence that says that women make it to the boardroom breaking the glass cliff. But later find themselves weak in comparison to men in decision-making and leadership positions.
As per Ryan and Haslam, the phenomenon of glass cliff is neither an isolated issue nor is it peculiar to certain industries or geographical positions. It shows that women at the top position are usually given less priority as compared to men who occupy the same position. This creates an impression that women are incapable of solving issues and thereby demotivates them.
What is expected of the organizations when any person occupies a senior executive post? The person should be provided with support and mentored in all aspects. This becomes vital if they are to become successful and begin to make an impact. But what is commonly found is a glass cliff situation is that women lack this ongoing support. This tends to hamper their participation at the executive level.
However, it is not clear why organizations do not provide support to their women employees. The probable reason may be that an organization is unwilling to assist as they think women do not possess sufficient skills. Thus, it is a worrying situation where women are making it to the boardroom but are failing due to the lack of support. This is not only affecting women but also the organization.
Various observations have shown that women also suffer from impostor syndrome. Impostor syndrome is a concept wherein an individual believes that his or her success is just merely by luck, despite evidence showing that he or she is skilled and capable enough to be successful. This syndrome becomes more visible when in the boardroom if there is only one woman in a room full of men. She considers herself incapable and incompetent. However, it most certainly might not be the case.
It is also visible in many places, even if women have been appointed at senior executive levels, they are not treated accordingly. Subordinates do not follow the instructions given by women as they think she is incapable. On the other hand, if the same instruction is given by a man, it is always believed to be correct and followed. It is another reason for the failure of the women.
Efforts should be made to ensure that there is gender parity in the boardrooms. This helps the organization in numerous ways to achieve its targets. But if there is a lack of such efforts, then all sort of gender inequality, glass ceiling, and gender pay gap will be perpetuated visibly.
To conclude, it can be said that impostor syndrome, would be one of the possible reason for a glass cliff situation making women more vulnerable. An organization should understand women in such positions need initial support. As a result of this ongoing support, women will be encouraged to participate in decision-making.