Professor Michelle Ryan is a world-renowned gender equality expert, Professor of Social and Organisational Psychology, and the inaugural Director of GIWL. Her work centres on understanding the psychological processes underlying workplace gender inequality, and designing and implementing innovative and evidence-based interventions to increase gender equality.

With Alex Haslam, she uncovered the phenomenon of the glass cliff, whereby women (and members of other minority groups) are more likely to be placed in leadership positions that are risky or precarious. Research into the glass cliff was named by the New York Times as one of the top 100 ideas that shaped 2008, and in 2016 the term “the glass cliff” was shortlisted as Word of the Year by the Oxford English Dictionary.

Her extensive body of academic work covers a range of constraints on women’s careers such as the impact of COVID-19 on gender inequalities, how perceptions of equality can lead to gender bias, the motherhood penalty, sacrifice, risk taking, work-life compatibility, impostor syndrome, fatherhood and work, men’s support for gender equality, as well as quotas and affirmative action. Michelle also works closely with corporate, government, and professional organisations in both a research and a consultancy capacity to identify gender equality issues and design bespoke solutions.