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Why are women more likely to be offered the top jobs when a company is a mess? More importantly, why do we take them? This months Madison magazine tackles these questions.

It’s one of those cycles we see way too often in the business world. A division, branch or business starts to fall apart, the boss bails or gets booted, and the role goes to a woman. The men are all busy looking the other way, while a gutsy woman decides its rare an opportunity like this comes along so let’s go for it.

I am very excited that Madison magazine explored this issue of the glass cliff, and put it in the hands and minds of their thousands of Australian readers.

I was interviewed for the article, and shared from my own experience about what’s it’s like to be handed job that was really a hospital pass to the ICU of business divisions. Many women pick up the reins after the horse has bolted and their career bears the burden of the previous ineffective male bosses.

Perhaps it is that women are better suited to dealing with crisis, being more understanding and intuitive. Perhaps it’s because the selectors believe women are more dispensable and a lower risk if lost.

And one of the ideas covered by the article is a survey that asked survey participants to select a candidate for a senior management position, with varying reports on how the company was doing. When the company was doing well, the participants preferred male candidates – no surprise there. But when the company was doing poorly, female candidates were overwhelmingly preferred.

I don’t believe our only chance at the top job is cleaning up after men.  I do enough of that with my toddling son not to want to do it again! But I do think if you get offered a role like this, you should walk in with your eyes open and take it. And show them what you’ve got.

Make sure you head out and buy a copy of the magazine. It’s encouraging to see gender issues for working women being covered in such a popular publication.

What do you think – would you take the top job if you were offered it in a time of crisis?


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