By Claire Zillman
December 15, 2016

The Fortune 500 will get another female CEO next year when Kathryn Marinello takes over as president and CEO of Hertz, the rental car company. Activist investor Carl Icahn, who’s Hertz’s biggest shareholder, gushed over Marinello’s hire in a statement Tuesday, calling her “a proven CEO” who is “the right person to lead Hertz as we move forward.”

But Marinello will take over amid a troubling stretch for the company; it’s missed analysts’ earnings estimates in all but two quarters since 2013. Against that backdrop, Marinello’s appointment fits into the glass cliff phenomenon, in which women leaders are more likely to be offered the top position at companies that are struggling or in crisis. Recent research from Utah State University found that of the 50 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies through 2014, 42% were appointed during times of crisis, compared with 22% of a matched sample of men in the same period.

Earlier this year, Fortune‘s Jennifer Reingold detailed how this trend works against women: When they are not able to turn their firm around, it’s a confirmation bias: They really don’t have what it takes. They couldn’t cut it. That’s not to say every woman on the glass cliff slips off. Mary Barra, for instance, has navigated GM since 2014 despite the auto maker recalling 2.6 million cars just days after her appointment. If Icahn’s insight is any indication, perhaps Marinello will find similar success.

clairezillman

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