Wellesley Professor Discusses the Glass Cliff Phenomenon on “Freakonomics” Podcast

Olga Shurchkov ’01 stands before her class at Wellesley College
February 22, 2018

Olga Shurchkov ’01, associate professor of economics, was a featured guest on the popular “Freakonomics” podcast on February 14 during a segment entitled “After the Glass Ceiling, a Glass Cliff,” which focused on the challenges women executives face that their male counterparts do not.

The “glass cliff” phenomenon, as described in the podcast, is the point in a female CEO’s career when she finally breaks through the glass ceiling and is appointed to a high-level position in her field, but is handed, in many cases, a company that will inevitably fail.

In the podcast, Shurchkov, who studies the relationship between gender and economic outcomes, offered a potential solution centered on a shift in policy.

“Policies should really be geared toward making it easier for women to actually gain experience, rise through the ranks of companies without so much interruption to their careers,” she said. “It has to be a societal shift in perceptions of what’s acceptable and what’s going to be productive for the long run.” She also explained that many studies have found that “gender diversity in the workplace actually helps firms and economies become more productive over time.”

Listen to the full podcast.

Photo: Olga Shurchkov '01 stands at a blackboard, teaching at Wellesley College.