Significantly however participants displayed no such

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Significantly, however, participants displayed no such differential sensitivity when the leader was a woman. In addition, while leadership in the risky situation was seen to provide a man with a much lower quality of opportunity than leadership in the nonrisky situation, the very opposite was true for a woman. Thus, the law students saw leadership of the risky case to be a particularly poor career opportunity for a man but a particularly good opportunity?and one that was far less risky?for a woman. At the most basic level, these patterns point to the context dependence of perceptions of risk and opportunity, since whether or not the dan gers and merits of any given position were ac knowledged depended on whether that position was going to be occupied by a man or a woman. In line with the arguments developed above, these findings also suggest that the gender dis crimination that contributes to glass cliffs can be subtle and, in some sense, benevolent. This is because it appears that the recommendation of women for high-risk leadership positions can arise from the fact that these positions are con strued more as "golden opportunities" than "poi soned chalices"?presumably a reflection of participants' sensitivity to the fact that women have fewer opportunities than their male coun terparts (e.g., Fraizer & Hunt, 1998). Compatible with this world view, participants also appeared to feel that failure would be more likely to have a detrimental impact on the leader (i.e., would have more to lose) if the leader was a man rather than a woman. As with views about women's expendability, these per ceptions may also be linked to the traditional This content downloaded from 154.59.124.111 on Sun, 18 Nov 2018 22:57:23 UTC All use subject to
560 Academy of Management Review April view that men have a primary responsibility to be breadwinners, while women's work simply provides "extra" income (Zuo & Tang, 2000). Signaling Change Although implicit theories of leadership might suggest that women are appointed to precarious leadership positions because their traits or abil ities match the challenging managerial tasks they can expect to face in these positions, a less subtle explanation would suggest that they find themselves in these positions simply because they are not men. If a company or organizational unit is performing poorly, this failure may indi cate that the (default) think manager-think male approach to management is not working and, hence, that a change from the traditional, proto typically male, leader is in order. It is worth noting, too, that such strategies can be seen to present themselves as win-win op tions for those who seek to preserve the gender based status quo. If women succeed after being placed in difficult positions, then the organiza tion is better off, and if they fail, the women can be blamed and the prior practice of appointing men can be justified and resurrected. Moreover, in either event, equal opportunities policy can be seen to have been enacted, and the organi

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