The glass cliff. When the hard-headed and hard-hearted men of the Australian Labor Party think they are really in electoral trouble the call invariably goes out for a female leader. Think Julia Gillard, Joan Kirner, Carmen Lawrence and Kristina Keneally. And, it seems, the phenomenon of women taking the tough leadership job at a time of crisis happens in business as well.
A new study published (behind a paywall) in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, points to women seeming to be over-represented in precarious leadership positions at organisations going through crisis. Evidence is growing, says the press release previewing the findings, that more feminine leadership traits, such as being understanding and tactful, are believed to be desirable under such circumstances, causing people to make a “think crisis — think female” association. As the press release states: