Do Women Prefer Male Bosses Over Female Ones?

Miranda Priestly

THE WORKPLACE is nowhere near being an even playing field for men and women, and you have to wonder what that would even look like if it ever was. One thing is clear, though: what’s good for one person’s goose might not be for another person’s gander. Especially when it comes to work.

When Apple and Facebook announced that they would begin offering their female employees egg-freezing benefits, some women saw it as a blessing from above, allowing them to answer the question “Will I be able to have children later on in life if I want to focus on work right now?” with a resounding “yes.” Other women saw it as the biggest slap in the face the corporate world has ever dealt its female workforce. Proponents see a way to save thousands of dollars and reproductive frustration if female employees aren’t quite ready to start families, while others interpret the option as a thinly-cloaked suggestion to women that they should put off having children (maybe even indefinitely) in lieu of working for their respective companies — the equivalent of the Dark Ages for female equality in the workplace. This is just one example of the wildly-different extremes of the spectrum that people can fall on when talking about hot-button issues like reproductive rights and gender parity in the workplace.

But another point of contention that hasn’t been receiving much attention is the gender of higher-ups. Apparently, studies are done periodically to check in with how both sexes feel about gender in the workplace, and recently one was done to see how people feel about their bosses in particular. They discovered that for people who have a preference whether their boss is a male or female, the majority still widely prefers men in positions of power. But not all is lost: the percentage of people who say that they really don’t care either way has grown slightly.

The specific Gallup report we’re referencing, which was a part of their Women and the Workplace series, found that 33% of people prefer a male boss, 20% prefer a female, and 46% of people didn’t care either way. That number was up from 41% last year, but down from 2012’s 49%.

Strangely, last year 23% of people said they preferred a female boss, so the drop can either be attributed to people jumping to the male side of the spectrum, or they might have just determined that it doesn’t matter either way and joined that camp.

When the results of this were broken down by gender of participants, it was discovered that women are a little more opinionated about this, in general. 39% of women would prefer a male boss compared to 26% of men, but 25% of women versus 14% of men said they want a female boss. Those are pretty high stats for women preferring male bosses. Is it possible that we don’t feel as held down by the supposed gender glass ceiling as we think we do?

Lastly, the trend showed a 3% increase in the occurrence of women bosses, so maybe as that number increases and companies don’t crash and burn like everyone expects them to when a woman takes the helm, people will keep realizing that it doesn’t much matter who’s in charge, either way. There’s a reason why corporations don’t have genders, after all.

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