Think crisis–think female: Glass cliffs and contextual variation in the think manager–think male stereotype
Ryan, Michelle K.
Haslam, S. Alexander
Journal of Applied Psychology
American Psychological Association
The ‘think manager – think male’ association (TMTM) underlies many gender inequalities in the workplace. However, research into ‘the glass cliff’ demonstrates that the suitability of male and female managers varies as a function of company performance such that in times of poor performance people may ‘think female’ (Ryan & Haslam, 2005, 2007). Three studies examine gender and managerial stereotypes in the context of companies that are doing well or doing badly. Study 1 reproduces TMTM associations for descriptions of managers of successful companies, but demonstrates a reversal for managers of unsuccessful companies. Study 2 examines the prescriptive nature of these stereotypes. No TMTM relationship was found for ideal managers of successful companies, but ideal managers of unsuccessful companies were associated with the female stereotype. Study 3 suggests that women may be favored in times of poor performance, not because they are expected to improve the situation, but because they are seen to be good people managers and can take the blame for organizational failure. Together, the studies illustrate the importance of context as a moderator of the TMTM association. Practical and theoretical implications for gender discrimination in the workplace are discussed.
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record. The copy of record is available via DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0022133
2011, Vol. 96, No. 3, 470 – 484
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