Female candidate

As predicted there is minimal difference between the conditions of male and female, as the gender of the applicant should not have an affect on how the participant views the job itself. As gender is not of interest in this case, a graph has been constructed combining these two conditions to view the difference between improving and declining festival success easier (Graph 4). The improving success condition is much higher, as predicted. These results do prove statistically significant (improving condition mean = 10.76, declining condition mean = 9.56) as there is a difference of more than 1.00.

The aim of this study was to investigate the theory of the ‘glass cliff’ by seeing if participants were more likely to appoint a female candidate to a riskier job or more likely to appoint a male to a stable one. Neither of the results collected from the dependant variables appear to be statistically significant, that is neither had a difference of 1.00 between any of the conditions. This means the experimental hypotheses have been rejected and the null accepted,

A worrying feature of the results, however, is that the trends in the first and second question seem to be in opposite directions (the mean score for the female applicants in both the improving and declining conditions outweigh the mean score for the male in the first question, and vice versa for the second) despite the intention that they measure roughly the same thing. This would suggest that they do not, or that the participants have misunderstood what the question is asking, making the results potentially invalid.

If this is not the case, the implications of this research could be that the ‘glass cliff’ is either not as prevalent outside the companies tested in Haslam and Ryan’s study or that it has limitations, as these results do not support those collected in that investigation.
One issue could have been that the ‘glass cliff’ theory only happens with leadership positions, and the job outlined in the handout could have been seen as less central to the festivals overall success and therefore less risky for the applicant alone. This could be tested by conducting the same experiment but including another condition with the job advertisement referring to a managing director, for example. However, the results from question to check the manipulation of the festival’s success did appear to be statistically significant, which suggests that inadequate manipulation of this variable is not to blame.

The number of female participants far outweighed the number of male ones and this may have affected the result. Women may not be so inclined to hire depending on gender for example. This could be tested by dividing the participants into two conditions depending on their gender, as well as the applicant’s gender. This could correspond with the ‘glass cliff’ as the ‘glass ceiling’ theory dictates that that women are underrepresented in leadership positions in general and so it could be the fact that males are making the decisions to appoint women to risky jobs as they are more likely to be in a position of authority enabling them to do this.

In conclusion, these results do not support the previous research into this area and so could indicate limitations or exceptions such as certain types of jobs that are unaccounted for in this research. However, there are a number of methodological flaws that could have accounted for this discrepancy such as the uneven number of males and females in the sample. Taking both into consideration, it does seem likely that some of the factors of the ‘glass cliff’ theory may not be generalisable to situations outside a business environment and may be restricted to specific types of occupations.


Ryan, M.K., ; Haslam S. A. (2005). The Glass Cliff: Evidence that women are over-represented in precarious leadership positions. British Journal of Management, 16, 81-90

Ryan M. K ; Haslam S.A. (in press). The Glass Cliff: Theories that explain and sustain the precariousness of women’s leadership positions. In B. Schyns & J. R. Meindl (Eds), Implicit leadership theories: Essays and explorations. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Atwater, L.E. & Van Fleet, D. D. (1997). Another ceiling? Can males compete for traditionally female jobs?, Journal of Management. Retrieved November 29th 2005, from http://www.findarticles.com.

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