She Leads In-Conversation: Women in leadership and the glass cliff: a sense of being up high, yet teetering on the edge with Professor Michelle Ryan

Image with a headshot of featured speaker, Professor Michelle Ryan and facilitator, Hala BatainahTheresa May. Julia Gillard. Jacinda Ardern. Angela Merkel. 

Other than being politicians and at one point, heads of their country, what else do they have in common? 

They’re all examples of the glass cliff phenomenon.  

The term ‘glass cliff’ has been around for years. Even the New York Times named it as one of the Top 100 ideas that shaped 2008.  

This term has been used to describe the phenomenon where women (and members of other marginalised groups) are more likely to occupy leadership roles in times of crisis. 

But did you know that the phrase ‘glass cliff’ was coined first in 2005 by Professor Michelle Ryan and Professor Alex Haslam? 

Here’s what Professor Ryan told Broad Agenda about the glass cliff phenomenon: 

We see the glass cliff as a relatively new and reasonably subtle form of prejudice that occurs once women start to shatter the glass ceiling. The increased scrutiny and risk of failure makes such positions likely to be stressful and sub-optimal. Indeed, research also describes a parallel ‘saviour effect’, such that once all is going well again, those on glass cliffs are replaced by more traditional leaders.”  

We’re excited to be hosting Professor Michelle Ryan for a She Leads In-Conversation in August, where she will explore her research in women’s leadership, as well as about her own leadership journey from studying psychology at ANU to becoming the inaugural Director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership. 

Key event details

Date + time: Tuesday 23 August 2022, 6 to 8.30pm (registration opens 5.45pm)

Where: Kambri Cultural Centre (ANU Building 153), University Avenue, Acton

Cost: $30 for YWCA Canberra members and $45 for non-members

Please note: we have tried to make the price of our event as accessible as possible while still covering the cost to run it, including paying our speakers for their time and work.

What does your ticket include?

  • Entry into the She leads In-Conversation event
  • Networking opportunity to connect with other like-minded people and be inspired by women and non-binary leaders
  • Drinks during the In-Conversation and networking session
  • Food during the networking session

Parking: There is underground parking beneath Kambri Cultural Centre that is managed by Carepark and their parking rates can be found on their website.  You can also park in the city as it is a short walk away. You can view and download this map for parking assistance.

Photography: Photographs will be taken at this event. If you do not wish to have your photo published, please contact the She Leads team at

Our She Leads events often sell out quickly, so grab your ticket as soon as possible.

For any further enquiries, please contact the She Leads team at or call YWCA Canberra on (02) 6185 2000.


Professor Michelle Ryan

Headshot of featured speaker, Professor Michelle RyanProfessor Ryan is a Professor of Social and Organisational Psychology and the inaugural Director of the Global Institute of Women’s Leadership (GIWL) at The Australian National University (ANU). Her research examines workplace gender equality, with a focus on systemic solutions rather than ‘fixing’ women. With Alex Haslam, she uncovered the phenomenon of the glass cliff. Since its discovery, the term ‘glass cliff’ has entered public discourse and the concept informs and shapes debate and the public understanding of women’s leadership positions. The New York Times named the glass cliff as one of the Top 100 ideas that shaped 2008.

Hala Batainah

Headshot of MC and facilitator, Hala BatainahHala Batainah is currently managing her portfolio career, which includes coaching executives and first time CEOs, emerging female leaders and high performing teams. She is Chair of the Canberra Innovation Network; an organisation creating impact for Canberra by accelerating start-ups, innovation and entrepreneurship.



She Leads In-Conversation Series

YWCA Canberra’s She Leads In-Conversations events aim to provide the community with the opportunity to hear from women and non-binary leaders from different backgrounds and industries, in a conversational format, followed by a Q&A session and networking. Men are welcome to attend.