A senior job or important project, particularly one given to a woman, with a high risk of failure (cf. glass ceiling).
The Glass Cliff has been demonstrated in a number of fields, including FTSE 100 companies, British politics, law and policing, and the research suggests that precarious Glass Cliff positions may be particularly prevalent in male-dominated fields such as ship-ping, logistics and transport.
This may be because women in these industries are often isolated and lack the networks of their male colleagues.
One female executive described what happened to her: "I was placed on a project to manage that was the 'project from hell'. Was I set up for failure? I do not know."
—"Balancing on the edge of the Glass Cliff," Lloyd's List, September 21, 2006
'Why are women so awful to each other?' 'Do Men Make Better Bosses?' 'Nurturer or Queen Bee?' - these are some recent headlines that suggest something is wrong with women in senior leadership and management positions.The barriers to women's progress in leadership and management are well known - from the 'glass ceiling' or 'glass cliff' to the 'Mommy track'. But how should women support each other to reach senior positions?
—Sharon Mavin, "Venus envy: sisters are ruining it for themselves," Personnel Today, August 8, 2006
There has been much research and conjecture concerning the barriers women face in trying to climb the corporate ladder, with evidence suggesting that they typically confront a 'glass ceiling' while men are more likely to benefit from a 'glass escalator'. But what happens when women do achieve leadership roles? And what sorts of positions are they given? This paper argues that while more women are now achieving more high profile positions, they are more likely than men to find themselves on a 'glass-cliff', such that their position of leadership is risky or precarious.
—Michelle K. Ryan and S. Alexander Haslam, "The Glass Cliff: Evidence that Women Are Over-Represented in Precarious Leadership Positions," British Journal of Management, December 17, 2003