Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Great Debate: Male vs. Female Bosses

In a recent Forbes article entitled “Do Employees Prefer Male or Female Bosses?” Forbes conducted a survey through Facebook to see if people tended to favor one sex over the other when it came to their higher-ups. Surprisingly, the results show employees overwhelmingly favor male bosses. Naturally, some of that may be rooted in gender stereotypes—men are viewed as confident and strong, while women are seen as emotional and “nice”.

The article goes on to explain that as a result of gender stereotypes, women in managerial roles often take on typical male characteristics. They become more assertive and aggressive. The result? They're viewed negatively. They can come across as power hungry, cold and even a little bitchy. It doesn't mean they are worse bosses than men. Not at all. But unfortunately for them, that’s how they’re often perceived.

Throughout my career, and random high school and college jobs, I’ve had both male and female bosses. I’ve had the good, the bad, the distant, the sarcastic and the somewhat crazy. And to be completely honest, I prefer working for a male boss. I know, I know. As a strong, savvy Working Girl that’s quite shameful…but it’s true.

Before you hunt me down and threaten to throw rocks at me and my outdated, anti-feminist mindset, please let me explain. Here’s the thing: Women are emotional beings. Yes, it's a stereotype, but I find it to be true. And I just happen to be extra emotional. I’m very sensitive to other people’s moods. If they’re stressed, I get stressed. If they’re mad, I get mad. So in my experience, I’ve worked for women who often times were riding on roller coasters of emotions–AKA mood swings—and it made it very difficult to keep up. Don't get me wrong—they were great people. But they’d be nice one minute, frustrated the next, and stressed out before you could blink an eye. I could never tell if what I was doing was good, bad or just plain unimportant. It made my jobs extra stressful on a daily basis.

I’ve found that because male bosses don’t let their emotions gets in the way, they have an easier time maintaining their authority. Sure, there are pros and cons for both male and female bosses, but for me personally, I appreciate not getting swept up in any emotional distress.

What do you think, Working Girls? Do you prefer a female boss over a male boss? Do you notice females taking on male characteristics to appear “tougher” in the workplace? Do you think my opinion is just plain crazy? Please comment and let me know what you think!


eemusings said...

I'd be a terrible boss. Not just because of the gender thing, but also my general personality and temperament. I'm a team person, not a leader.

I prefer male bosses, too. I just often prefer working with guys - I don't know, it's something I can't really put my finger on. My current boss is a woman, and although she's great, her style is like you say, much "nicer" and it can come off as sometimes a little indecisive?

I haven't experienced a megabitch boss yet, nor do I want to. I have worked in an office full of women, and did not enjoy the environment. To make it worse, it was at a fashion mag, so you can imagine the vibe.

nmaha said...

My husband and me actually run our own business, so our employees have to report to a woman boss for finance and operations, while their CEO is male. Wonder what they think of our management styles.

I have worked for great men and women bosses and not such great ones too. I think it's more a question of how comfortable they are with the authority.

I agree with one observation, women do have to be a lot tougher in such a role, to be taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

that is a most tricky question. i've had both and i really enjoy both. for me sex doesn't matter, it just depends on if they are effective boss or not. for example my current bosses are pretty laid back people and they bring that to work, in terms of letting us do certain things, but they are also effective in translating the seriousness of my job and making sure we're getting the job done.

i've had an equal share of female and male bosses and they're both great.

Legyviel said...

From my experience, I also prefer working with male bosses. But then again, I only had one female boss and she was very bitchy. So no rock throwing from my side!

Amy said...

I have had both male and female bosses, and I agree. I do prefer working for a male boss because, at least from my experience, they are just better at making strategic and sensible decisions and I admired their leadership styles (for the most part...there have been some male bosses who are completely useless) :) The female bosses I've worked for have all had their buddy-buddy favourites among their team and without fail those were the people to get promotions and other perks. Just from my own experience, female bosses bring an element of socializing and relationships to work (great with clients--not so much with an internal team). I'm sure there are lots of great female bosses out there!

Corporate Chickee said...

I have had both - great & terrible male bosses, and great & terrible female bosses. True, some female managers do let their emotions get in the way - but for example, my current manager does not. She's great at keeping emotions out of work. Her upsides? She's understanding when it comes to family and kids... but she's not exactly easy to please - which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but other office mates call her "B*tchy" when in reality, she just stays out of things emotionally.

Male bosses can be great because they're automatically not emotional, but they can also suck sometimes because many times they're work-a-holics, and expect everyone else to be. Sure, I love my job and I'll do whatever it takes - but at some point, I'll need to see my family eventually. That's a harder sell with some male bosses.

My opinion - it doesn't necessarily matter what gender your boss is, some are great and some suck... it's the luck of the draw! :)

Rebekkah Rose said...

Gah! I'm so with you, Ad WG. I prefer male managers. They are logical, goal-oriented, and decisive. And while the "good jobs" are used sparingly, you can pretty much figure out in a nanosecond if you're passing muster with men. I had a female manager at my last job and that woman did just about anything to get an emotional reaction from me just to "prove" that I wasn't ready for "more responsibility." (I pretty much ran a regional office. She managed me from Boston for most of my time at that organization.) She viewed me as a threat.

I wish female managers would realize that we aren't after their jobs so much as we want to take our careers to the next level -- just like they did.

welshmug said...

I have had many many bosses in my lifetime, mostly male, two female. The two female managers were poles apart in their work ethic, one used the proverbial "carrot" technique which was much appreciated, and the other used the "stick" or, in her case, an XM25 airburst weapon.

However, both shared the same unyielding urge to promise the earth, moon and stars to their superiors in order to secure their future with the company which, for the most part, involved accepting projects on my behalf without checking my workload or allowing me to delegate what I already had on my plate from the many other assignments they had offloaded onto me.

The male managers I have worked for have also ranged from extremely approachable to something akin to Voldemort in a Gucci suit, but all of them bar none have been good at what they do and considerate of everyone's time and abilities.

Maybe it is because they don't feel the need to prove to the whole world as well as their bosses that they can do the job.

angeline said...

I've also had a range of male and female bosses. Some of the men were better managers than others (I had one crazy passive-aggressive boss for over a year in college). But all of my female bosses have been amazing, and I've had quite a few (a sweet but firm Southerner, a tough-as-nails crisis communicator, a Democrat who formerly served in the Bush administration, and a former schoolteacher turned entrepreneur). They've run the gamut from very rigid, what you might call "male-like" to softer and more flexible, but they held the balance of being human while not letting emotions interfere with work. I guess I have been lucky...I feel like I've had a lot of great examples of how to be a strong leading woman, and hope someday to be one myself.

Cass said...

I don't know, in my experience most male bosses I've had have been far more emotional than any female boss. Seriously, these guys were to the point where you would think they are PMSing. And at the same time almost every male boss I've had has tried to hit on me.

The female bosses I've had have been amazing and where I work now the office is mostly women. The key is they are all of various ages (28-65) and no one is actually catty.

But I think it depends on the office, we can't really generalize whether or not male or female bosses are better because like all people there are some bad apples and some awesome people too.

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Most of my bosses have been women. I think I've been lucky b/c they've all been amazing! Out of the two male bosses I've had they tended to be more demanding and insensitive.


Anonymous said...

I've worked for both male and female bosses, and honestly, I've truly enjoyed working for women better.

My female bosses have not been the stereotypical over-aggressive or super-emotional types. They're simply educated and successful women. The best part of all is that they understand your life outside of work: the importance of spending time with your family, an emergency trip to the vet, sending you home early on your birthday.

They've also taken a keen interest in my development, and have made it a priority to push me ahead in my career.

However, this isn't to say that my male bosses haven't been supportive of my career. But I will say that I've had 2 female and 3 male bosses, and the only two that ever ignored me, belittled me, or took credit for my work were men.

tris1978ton said...

What a tough subject! I know most people prefer a male boss but from experience alone, I have had the best time under female leaders. All of them have been capable, logical and extremely intelligent. But most of all, when it comes to managerial stuff, they are fair (not "nice", but fair).

Again, this opinion is solely based on my meager working experience, but after being under a couple of men who are so technical that they don't even do their managerial tasks (approve sick days, schedule reviews, provide proper training ...), I much rather prefer the female bosses I've dealt with.

Luna said...

i have read articles similar to this before. sometimes it depends on my boss. i have had good and bad experiences with both genders. i would have to say that male bosses have been better for me than female ones. to be a boss you have to be a certain way. when men are this way they are seen as confident like you said but when a woman is this way then she is seen as a bitch. now some female bosses do act like bitches but its sad that when you do what you need to do, as a woman, you'll automatically be viewed as a bitch by many people.

Anonymous said...

I think I am biased because in my working world I've mostly had female bosses and they've mostly been insane. So, I imagine I would enjoy working for a male boss more. That could be the "grass is greener" phenomenon though. Right now my boss is me, and that's pretty much awesome.

Anonymous said...

I actually really prefer working under a woman. Yes, they tend to be sticklers but I find them easier to read.

Anonymous said...

I have had crappy bosses from both genders. I think it has more to do with personalities and professional experiences. But I think people treat me a certain way because of my professional experiences; some will try and teach you things, some will try lecture, and some will try to pacify you.

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Boss Chicks said...

I agree with one observation, women do have to be a lot tougher in such a role, to be taken seriously.

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Anyone said...

I used to work for two woman possess one for the day and one for the night
two of the most caddy people you would ever meet. One was jealous of the other
the other was always trying to get information out of me about the other boss.
and if you said something all hell would break lose, I could not stand working for
these two woman i hope they lose their contract now that I am gone.