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Gender Differences in Promotions to Top Level Management Positions: An Examination of Glass Cliff in the IT Sector

Extant research shows that female managers face significant hurdles in the attainment of top level positions in IT organizations. Recently there have been some examples to women breaking through the glass ceiling to reach to higher positions. However, there is only a limited knowledge of the obstacles women may face after they break through the glass ceiling to ascend to leadership positions. New studies suggest that women may be more likely to be assigned to riskier, more precarious leadership positions compared to men-a form of bias called the glass cliff. Drawing from role congruity theory, the present study examines whether men and women are differentially selected to leadership positions. Employing a 2 (organization performance: increasing or declining) x 2 (candidate gender: male or female) between subjects design with a sample of 281 Business Administration students did not find support for the glass cliff hypothesis that female leaders are more likely to be assigned to top positions when organizational performance is declining rather than increasing. Hence, this study did not replicate the glass cliff. More research is needed to investigate under what conditions this bias may occur.