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Significantly, however, participants displayedno such differential sensitivity when the leaderwas a woman. In addition, while leadership inthe risky situation was seen to provide a manwith a much lower quality of opportunity thanleadership in the nonrisky situation, the veryopposite was true for a woman. Thus, the lawstudents saw leadership of the risky case to be aparticularly poor career opportunity for a manbut a particularly good opportunity?and onethat was far less risky?for a woman.At the most basic level, these patterns point tothe context dependence of perceptions of riskand opportunity, since whether or not the dangers and merits of any given position were acknowledged depended on whether that positionwas going to be occupied by a man or a woman.In line with the arguments developed above,these findings also suggest that the gender discrimination that contributes to glass cliffs canbe subtle and, in some sense, benevolent. This isbecause it appears that the recommendation ofwomen for high-risk leadership positions canarise from the fact that these positions are construed more as "golden opportunities" than "poisoned chalices"?presumably a reflection ofparticipants' sensitivity to the fact that womenhave fewer opportunities than their male counterparts (e.g., Fraizer & Hunt, 1998).Compatible with this world view, participantsalso appeared to feel that failure would be morelikely to have a detrimental impact on theleader (i.e., would have more to lose) if theleader was a man rather than a woman. As withviews about women's expendability, these perceptions may also be linked to the traditionalThis content downloaded from 188.8.131.52 on Sun, 18 Nov 2018 22:57:23 UTCAll use subject to
560 Academy of Management Review Aprilview that men have a primary responsibility tobe breadwinners, while women's work simplyprovides "extra" income (Zuo & Tang, 2000).Signaling ChangeAlthough implicit theories of leadership mightsuggest that women are appointed to precariousleadership positions because their traits or abilities match the challenging managerial tasksthey can expect to face in these positions, a lesssubtle explanation would suggest that they findthemselves in these positions simply becausethey are not men. If a company or organizationalunit is performing poorly, this failure may indicate that the (default) think manager-think maleapproach to management is not working and,hence, that a change from the traditional, prototypically male, leader is in order.It is worth noting, too, that such strategies canbe seen to present themselves as win-win options for those who seek to preserve the genderbased status quo. If women succeed after beingplaced in difficult positions, then the organization is better off, and if they fail, the women canbe blamed and the prior practice of appointingmen can be justified and resurrected. Moreover,in either event, equal opportunities policy canbe seen to have been enacted, and the organi