Glass Cliff or Glass Prison: Think Evil-Think Men in Organizational Leadership

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    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Recent research suggests that women fail in leadership because men in one way or another target them and put them in unusual, difficult, and risky positions where chances for failure are high. The purpose of this article is to examine this argument based on its literature. The study also collects data from two waves of interviews with 62 women holding leadership positions in public and private sector organizations. The study finds that, while gender is the main theme in the glass cliff argument, the impact of other factors––such as jealousy, departmental politics, and self-interests––on women is inadequately examined. The study concludes that, because injustice in the workplace is oversimplified and reduced to a single factor (gender), the literature creates a glass prison that both confines women and reiterates stereotypical assumptions about women’s capabilities. The blaming and demonization of men therefore tends to have an alternative that has been neglected. Future research on women leadership should depart from the trap of genders, and engage in a wider examination of organizational, cultural, economic, political, psychological, and social factors. These factors shape not only the roles of women in leadership, but the entire the workplace.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)998-1008
    Number of pages11
    JournalInternational Journal of Public Administration
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 10 2018


    • Gender
    • glass cliff
    • glass prison
    • injustice
    • leadership
    • management
    • men
    • organization
    • women

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Business and International Management
    • Public Administration


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