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Abstract

The glass cliff refers to the phenomenon whereby women are overrepresented in leadership roles associated with high risk and an increased chance of failure. Research into the glass cliff has focused on documenting the existence of the phenomenon and understanding the psychological processes that contribute to the appointment of women to precarious positions. This paper summarises this research and extends it by examining the implications that glass cliff positions have, both for the women who occupy them and for the organisations in which they exist. The gender-stress-disidentification model suggests that glass cliff positions are inherently stressful, and lead women to experience a reduced sense of organisational identification. This, in turn, has important implications for organisations in terms of reduced commitment and increased turnover. Taken together, the research presented here offers an alternative analysis of women's increasing disaffection with the workplace, which takes into account gender differences in workplace experience.