Introduction

Hello! My name is Meg Anderson and I just finished up my Freshman year at Pitt in the business school. I grew up in Murrysville, PA, which is about a half hour east of Pittsburgh. I loved going to the city and surrounding neighborhoods all throughout my childhood and fell in love with Oakland and Pitt during High School. I would visit campus several times a month with friends and family to eat, go for walks, shop, and of course, see the Cathedral of Learning. I recall one of my favorite elementary school field trips being visiting the nationality rooms at Christmas time. I come from a family of Pitt alum, and my parents (who met in Pitt’s MBA program) got married at Heinz Chapel and now have a stone in the new garden with their names and wedding date on it! Pitt pride is something that comes naturally to me, and having now completed freshman year,  my love for Pitt has only grown stronger. So far at Pitt, I’ve joined the Professional Business Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi, and served as Secretary of my pledge class in the Fall and one of the recruitment directors this past spring; I will hold the same position this Fall. I also participated in LEAP (League of analytics professionals) and competed in two case competitions- one of which was held by PWC, and my team earned first place! I will be interning at PNC in risk management this summer starting in mid-June, and beginning in the Fall, I will be interning in the Office of Finance at Pitt. I’m also a member of the Pitt business Honors program, and it was through an honors course I took in the fall that I found out about the research opportunities offered.  Throughout High School, I participated in marching band, Robotics, Science Olympiad, National Honors Society, student government, Ultimate Frisbee, and FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), and worked at Dairy Queen and then a retirement home; marching band was by far my favorite activity. I started playing the trumpet in fourth grade and by high school, was honored to be one of the section leaders, play solos in our field shows, participate in the honors band, orchestra, and musical pit orchestra, and ultimately serve as commanding officer of our entire band. The band was about 200 members strong and we even had the phenomenal opportunity to march in the Rose bowl parade in Pasadena my freshman year and Disney world my Junior year!

The Glass Cliff

Gender equality is something I’ve been interested in and passionate about ever since I was a young girl. My Mom instilled her knowledge of women’s history in this country beginning with reading me books about Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton before I could read myself. She also encouraged me and my younger sister to learn about and give speeches to our classmates about the suffrage movement and the incredible women (such as Alice Paul) who paved the way to more opportunities in this country for the female half of the population. In addition, my Mom is an incredible role model and has always encouraged me not only to pursue leadership positions, and once in those positions, pay attention to the makeup of the organization’s leadership and encourage more girls to run for roles if there was great disparity when it came to the gender of the leaders. All of this, in addition to my own personal interest in someday climbing the corporate ladder has led me to realize we still have a long way to go in this country in order to achieve true gender equality. Only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women and we’ve never had a female president- this is just the start of an endless list of areas in our country where women make up a much smaller portion of the leadership than they do the United States population. This realization led me to do a Business Honors project last Fall about the various unconscious biases present in people, which can lead to such gender disparity in top leadership positions in corporate America. I presented this in the form of an annotated bibliography at an Honors luncheon that Dean Murrell attended; she approached me after the luncheon and shared her mutual interest in the topic with me and suggested that we work together in the future on researching this more. Over spring break, I reached out to her asking if she was still interested, and she proposed delving further by researching specifically the Glass Cliff Phenomenon. With a name stemming from the more widely studied and acknowledged Glass Ceiling, the Glass Cliff is the observation of women being appointed to precarious leadership positions when organizations are on the brink of failure, which sets women up to fail and can derail their entire careers. This has been observed in corporate America, public organizations, and political seat elections; much of the published literature suggest further research into the presence of the Glass Cliff in other sectors, as well as the underlying causes. Dean Murrell and I will be focusing on researching specific causes of this phenomenon, as well as potential solutions and actions that women and companies can take to mitigate its negative impact on women’s careers.

My Goals

I plan to graduate from Pitt Business in April 2023 with a double major in Accounting and Business Information Systems and certificates in Business analytics and Leadership and Ethics. I chose this combination of studies largely because of the way our modern world is shifting towards an emphasis on big data and technology; I am hopeful that having this skillset will ensure job stability in the future. Additionally, I plan to begin my career at one of the big four accounting firms. Based on personality tests I’ve completed, along with attending career fairs and informational interviews, I think I would thrive in the setting of Public Accounting and know they provide an incredible amount of experience for young adults which opens the door to so many opportunities in the future. This scholarship is going to serve such an important role in my research, as it will allow me to stay in an apartment in Oakland this summer that I wasn’t planning to move into until next Fall originally. This will give me a private space to work, have meetings or phone calls with Dean Murrell, and conduct interviews of female alumni from Pitt on their experiences in leadership positions. Additionally, the award will allow me to spend time focusing on my research in the summer months rather than working as many hours at a job. I plan to begin by finding and reading about as much research that has already been done on the topic before choosing my main focus. Once this is established, I can start determining interview questions and schedule interviews. Finally, I will create a final product through which to present my findings. This process will not only be a great learning experience on the research process, but will also have a large impact on my mindset upon beginning my career in a few years. I am hopeful that interviewing female alum who hold leadership roles will be inspiring and that they will offer advice and personal anecdotes that will prove helpful. Additionally, one of my long-term goals is to one day be a strong female role model for younger girls and women; this research will open my eyes to some of the harsh realities that still exist when it comes to being a female in the professional world, but also different ways to handle the issue and potential solutions. This will allow me to better handle situations I may face as a female in my career as a result.

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