Michelle K. Ryan and Alexander Haslam coined an expression in 2004 to refer to this disturbing phenomenon: the “glass cliff”. Both, experts in social psychology, came to the conclusion that, when the possibility of success is remote, women, and also members of ethnic and social minorities, are more likely to rise. Since the opportunities to redirect the situation are slim, the easiest thing is for these upstarts to end up falling apart.
In 2003, “The Times” dropped an article that women fared worse when they took charge of the boards of directors of publicly traded companies. Ryan, who is a professor at the University of Exeter, in the United Kingdom, and Haslam, who works at the University of Queensland, in Australia, wanted to find out if what the British tabloid raised was true and, if it was confirmed to be so, what was the reason.
At the end of their investigations, they came to the conclusion that it was not that they led companies to disaster, but that they were given executive power when disaster was imminent and when none of their colleagues wanted it.
In the midst of the current crisis, so strange and of an unprecedented magnitude, female leadership is taking shape, it tends to normalize, although it remains within exceptionallylity. Articles and editorials have been devoted to the matter and much has been said and, in general, for the good of political personalities such as Angela Merkel, in Germany; Jacinda Arden, in Australia; the future Vice President of the United States, Kalama Harris; of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, at the head of the Belarusian opposition, or, without going any further, of the President of the European Union, Urson her der Leyen.
The “glass cliff” thesis is being confirmed, but now, fifteen years after it was described, there are qualifications to be made. Women are installing themselves, naturally and without imposing the uses and gestures of their male colleagues, in the offices from which the future of nations and continents is decided. Also in business and finance, although it is not so obvious there.
Ryam and Haslam affirm, in their psychological theory on women’s access to power, that when things get difficult, they are not used for valuing qualities such as empathy or intuition, but for not exposing “one of our own ” failure. But, in the current situation, in which you have to move a chip on a blank board and where you have to improvise the rules day by day, women are not handling themselves badly, far from it. They are setting an example of firmness and closeness to the citizenry, and they show no weakness despite maneuvering over the edge. They have broken the forecast and most seem to have come to stay.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.