And that despite years of anti-discrimination legislation and diversity training, and women generally doing better than men at university.
But in a widely reported survey of 3,000 people by UKjobs.net in 2010, three-quarters of the men interviewed said they preferred a male boss – and so did two-thirds of the women!
Male bosses were seen as more straight forward, better at “steering the ship“, more focussed on the long-term vision and less likely to have hidden agendas.
Female bosses were criticised for having mood swings and bringing personal problems to work, being overly competitive, and spending too much time on their appearance.
Women on the other hand were considered better at delegating, at giving praise, and at listening, so it wasn’t all bad news. Nevertheless the majority of people seem to prefer male bosses.
This is not the kind of thing that goes down well in politically correct circles of course and you can imagine what Harriet “Harperson” would make of it. Several columnists also got their knickers in a twist with Barbara Ellen in the Guardian saying women who said these thing should be ashamed of themselves; “We’re doomed if most women want a male boss“.
She does however make a valid point; “the boss thing is not a gender issue – it is a personality issue“. I posted on this a while ago asking; “Do you have what it takes to be a leader?” and I have also had a go at so-called Alpha Males in the past.
I also wonder just how much influence Emotional Intelligence (EI) is having on the current crop of managers. Women are more at risk of stress in high pressure jobs it seems and also can’t afford to be too nice as more aggressive women will compete with them – a point made in the survey about women managers over-compensating. So they are not seen as managing their emotions – one of the core competencies of EI.
On the other hand the positives that women were recognised for in the survey related to other EI competencies eg empathy and relating to others, yet these strengths were disregarded in favour of what might be seen as the less flexible (in management style), straight-ahead approach that male managers are perceived to have.
So what is going on? Do women really prefer to work for men? Some said that they thought they could be a better manager than their present female bosses so why would they rather work for man? Is it “imposter syndrome“, believing they are not deserving, because I don’t see assertiveness being a problem amongst women these days?
More recently a survey in America confirmed this tendency. A survey of legal secretaries found that, although almost half had no preference either way, not one of the 142 questioned actually had a preference for working for a female partner.
Another informal survey found that almost 7 out of 10 men said they preferred to work for a man. Even more women (3 out of 4) said they preferred to work for a man. Only a third of men and a quarter of women said they preferred to work for a woman.
See the full article on these surveys.
Originally posted in SGANDA in 2010