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October 2, 2014


After Mary Barra became the first woman to run a global car company, she acquired stardom. Other leaders in the ailing industry praised her, but only two weeks into her tenure, she found herself in the middle of the storm. General Motors has been rocked by recalls and lawsuits, causing the shares to drop 18 percent.

Is it only a bad luck or Barra’s troubling circumstances follow the script so many other female leaders are facing. It seems women like Marissa Mayer, Christine Lagarde and even Janet Yellen were appointed to powerful positions only when the things went sour. This phenomenon is lately so common it already got a name, the Glass cliff. When things are fine, men are in charge, but in times of crisis females are the ones to occupy positions with a high risk of failure.

The reasons behind the glass cliff are yet unknown. Perhaps there is a need to try something new to change status quo or a notion, that females have leadership qualities that are better suited to cleaning up the mess and calm down. When this week Barra announced new plans for GM to go forward, the stock rose 1.7 percent in the afternoon trading and the press started to ask, is she a winner?


From → Zeitgeist

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