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Parents on a glass cliff: Gender stereotypes in leadership selection

Parents on a glass cliff: Gender stereotypes in leadership selection

Project Details

Funding Sources

  • URECA: $


The primary objective of this research is to expand existing research on the glass cliff—the concept that within precarious business situations, women are selected over men for leadership positions (Ryan & Haslam, 2005), thus finding themselves in a “slippery” and unstable situation. Other research has shown that being a parent further complicates females’ ascent into achieving high status positions. Fuegen, Biernat, Haines, and Deaux (2004) have shown parents to be publicly judged as less agentic and less committed to their job, but fathers are held to more lenient standards than mothers and childless men. In the current work, Jess investigates perceptions and social judgments of mothers and fathers in the workplace compared to non-parents when a company is in a crisis. To test this, participants will complete a study through’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) in which they read a newspaper article about a retiring CEO for a company that is either economically successful or in economic crisis. They will then read resumes and personal statements of both a women and a man, each of which is either a parent or non-parent., and then evaluate each applicant.  Jessica hypothesizes that in the context of success, male applicants will be perceived as better leaders, and perhaps more so if he is a father. In the crisis context, however, female applicants will be perceived as a better leaders overall. However, what is less clear is how parental status may influence perceptions of females and males as good leaders in crisis situations. It is possible that children will heighten the sense of both male and female applicants as communal and nurturing (traits better suited for crisis), and thus make them even more desirable for the position. If this is the case, fathers will now be seen as desirable for the crisis situation.