Do Employees Prefer Male or Female Bosses?

More Americans say that they would rather work for a man. Why?

By Willow Duttge

"You know, you're not a man," Akio Morita, Sony's cofounder and former chairman of the board said to one of the firm's senior female executives over dinner one night.

"Nope, that's absolutely true," the woman, a single mother divorced with three children, replied.

"But you're not a woman."

"Uh, OK. What am I?"

"You're in a third category."

Right, she's a woman boss.

It was some two decades ago that Barbara Annis, now of Barbara Annis & Accociates, a firm that advises blue-chip companies on gender diversity and inclusiveness, had that conversation with the late "god of Sony." But not a lot has changed in terms of how we view female leaders.

The real surprise came when the ForbesWoman Facebook community was canvassed: "Would you rather work for a man or a woman?" The majority replied, "A man any day of the week," to use the words of Stephanie Rovengo.

Are men actually better bosses? Are women doing something wrong?

It's not just anecdotal that male bosses are perceived to be better at their jobs. "It's a general cultural phenomenon, the preference for men leaders and bosses," says Alice Eagly, Ph.D., a social psychology professor at Northwestern University.

In the most recent Gallup data, from 2006, 34% of men preferred a male boss while 10% preferred a female boss, while 40% of women preferred a male boss and 26% preferred a female boss. (The remaining respondents of both genders had no preference.)

One explanation for the across-the-board preference of male leaders may be deeply instilled gender stereotypes held by both men and women. "The cultural model of a leader is masculine," says Eagly. "Leaders are thought to be people who are dominant and competitive and take charge and are confident. Those kinds of qualities are ascribed to men far more than women. Women are ascribed to be nice. We are, above all, nice."

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See the list of Tips To Be A Successful Boss:

Provide Clear Feedback


As a leader, it's critical that you provide your employees with clear and precise feedback. There's nothing more frustrating for an employee who wants to move up in the ranks or improve their performance if their boss can't articulate what they need to do to make that happen.


Give Credit Where Credit is Due

Stealing credit, particularly from an underling, is petty and unnecessary. And chances are, if someone you supervise performs well, her success will reflect on you too. After all, you're the one who hired her.


Reward Good Work

While everyone likes to get a raise, it's not the only measure for acknowledging good work. A few words of praise--particularly when money is tight--can go a long way in increasing employee satisfaction. And an employee that feels appreciated tends to be a loyal and productive one.


Click here to read the full list of tips.

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See also:

Male Vs. Female Bosses

Is Your Boss Cheating On You?

Top Three Phrases Bosses Love To Hear