The “Glass Cliff”

From LizardBreath over at Unfogged:

A couple of British social psychologists (Michelle Ryan and Alex Haslam) have done research which appears to show that women are more likely to be promoted to positions of power under circumstances where a bad outcome is likely for pre-existing reasons — they call such promotions a “glass cliff”. They got started with this analysis after seeing an article in the London Times reporting research purporting to show that appointing women to corporate boards resulted in poorer performance; Ryan and Haslam reanalyzed the data and noted that companies appointing women to their boards had generally exhibited poor performance in the months preceding the appointment. They’re now working on extending the research to other situations and seeing if the same dynamics apply to minority groups, disabled people, and so on.

I read about this earlier in the year (actually, I’m surprised I didn’t post on it, but a quick google isn’t showing anything) but didn’t connect it to the election. But when you think of it, it is interesting that the year we had a black man and a woman contending for the Democratic presidential nomination, and for the first time the President will be someone other than a white man, was a year clearly marked with impending disaster. The Onion may have been on to something serious. (Come to think of it, David Dinkins, the first black mayor of NYC, got the job when the city was arguably hitting bottom, and the white guy who succeeded him got all the credit for a turnaround that started in the Dinkins years.)

I would not be at all surprised if the research pans out.

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