The Bank of Ireland has appointed a new CEO. Francesca McDonagh, 42, will take up the role in October and she will join from HSBC, where she is currently the head of retail banking and wealth management.

The Governor of Bank of Ireland, Archie Kane, said: “The board conducted a thorough search and from a strong field selected this exceptional candidate.”

McDonagh will be Irish lender’s first female chief exec. Why is there still such a gap in the number of men and women in positions of power?

How many women are at the top?

The year 2017 is set to reach a record high in the number of female CEOs in the Fortune 500. But this figure will still be below 5%. Why are so few women in leadership positions around the world? A new study published in the Strategic Management Journal has shown that when women are hired by these Fortune 500 companies, they are more often than not replaced with white men further down the line. This is often to do with the glass cliff.

Bank of Ireland - Compelo

The glass cliff

We hear a lot about how women are breaking glass ceilings, but have you heard of the glass cliff? The term describes a tendency in business for women to be preferred over men for more precarious roles. Hurray for women going after these tough jobs. Yet it could be argued that women in these roles are ‘teetering-on-the-edge’. The study also found something fascinating. The glass cliff term also refers to the fact that women were found to be more likely to be promoted to the top – to CEO or C-suite level – when the company is in crisis or facing a downturn.

However, a much higher share of women have been forced out of these top jobs over men - 38% of women over 27% of men. We can see examples like this in lots of big companies. Marissa Mayer at Yahoo and Meg Whitman were both appointed to turn companies around.

Is this a movement then or just a coincidence? What do you think about the idea of the glass cliff?

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