What Awaits On The Other Side Of The Glass Ceiling

9 Dec

As the “glass ceiling” continues to disappear with women increasingly holding traditionally male jobs such as CEOs, Police Chiefs, and Politicians, while some men become nurses, nannys, or Presidents of Women’s Colleges, our traditional mindsets continue to put these revolutionary individuals in danger of falling off the “glass cliff” once in a position of power according to new research published by the Association for Psychological Science.

Yale University researcher Victoria Brescoll had 200 participants read a scenario where either a female or male police chief or women’s college president made a mistake by either not sending enough police officers or campus security officers to respond to a protest. The participants then judged the person who made the mistake.

Brescoll found that participants judged those who were in the non-stereotypical gender role (e.g. a female police chief) harsher than those in the stereotypical role (e.g. male police chief) for making the same mistake (not sending enough police officers to a protest). Brescoll found the same results to be true in further tests with a female CEO of an aerospace engineering firm and a chief judge.

“There is an effect called the glass cliff,” Brescoll says. Like the glass ceiling that keeps women from rising higher, the glass cliff is what counter-stereotypical individuals (such as female police chiefs) are in danger of falling from. “You don’t really know, when you’re a woman in a high status leadership role, how long you’re going to hang onto it,” she says. “You might just fall off at any point. Our study points to one way that this may happen for women in high-powered male roles.”

Hopefully, as more and more stereotypes are broken, and the traditionally male jobs become a common female job and vice versa, we can move past tradition and keep an open mind toward others. Do you think this could be a reason why Hillary Clinton announced she will not hold another public position?

Article image via gawker.

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2 Responses to “What Awaits On The Other Side Of The Glass Ceiling”

  1. Phillip Wu 09. Dec, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    I think that whenever a new person or someone deemed inexperienced enters a field, they’re judged more harshly than those who are well-established, considered experienced, and have been there longer. Unfortunately, this also translates to entire groups of people in many people’s minds, such as women or minorities. So that when women or minorities, who are new to a field or position and collectively lack as much experience in that field or position make a mistake, they’re judged more harshly than if a heterosexual white man made the same mistake. Over time, when more and more women and minorities become established in certain fields and positions, I think we’ll start to see less judging (at least by people who aren’t inherently sexist, racist, etc.).

  2. Fraenk 10. Dec, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    absolutely true, and it again shows that equality of gender (or any other criteria) cannot be promoted by laws and policies but merely by breaking down prejudice and reforming the stubborn mindsets of people, which will probably take another generation or two.

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