Women on Corporate Boards of Directors
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Women on Corporate Boards of Directors

International Research and Practice

Edited by Susan Vinnicombe, Val Singh, Ronald J. Burke, Diana Bilimoria and Morten Huse

This important new book addresses the growing international interest in women on corporate boards of directors.
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Chapter 14: Examining Gendered Experiences Beyond the Glass Ceiling: The Precariousness of the Glass Cliff and the Absence of Rewards

Michelle K. Ryan, Clara Kulich, S. Alexander Haslam, Catherine Atkins and Mette D. Hersby


14. Examining gendered experiences beyond the glass ceiling: the precariousness of the glass cliff and the absence of rewards Michelle K. Ryan, Clara Kulich, S. Alexander Haslam, Mette D. Hersby and Catherine Atkins INTRODUCTION It has been over 20 years since the Wall Street Journal coined the phrase ‘the glass ceiling’ (Wall Street Journal, 1986). Is this metaphor still applicable in today’s business environment? As outlined in other chapters in this book, research and statistics demonstrate that the number of women occupying management positions is greater than it has ever been (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2005; Equal Opportunities Commission, 2006; Women and Equality Unit, 2004) with this increase in representation slowly extending into the boardroom (Catalyst, 2007; Singh and Vinnicombe, 2006). Now that women are increasingly occupying leadership roles, including those at board level, the question on everyone’s lips is ‘are they here to stay?’ The media spotlight is certainly trained on these high-flying women, but the verdict is not always good. There are reports of an ‘opt-out revolution’ (Belkin, 2003) whereby women are purportedly leaving the executive suite and the boardroom in droves. In addition, the media reports that women in senior management roles no longer aspire to occupy executive positions, a phenomenon that is reported as being due to women’s lack of ambition and a desire to stay at home with their children (for example, Belkin, 2003; Hall, 2005; Patton, 2006; Sellers and Mero, 2003). Taking these media stories at face value, one could assume that...

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