More People Prefer to Work for a Male Boss

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In recorded Gallup polls since 1953, men and women say they prefer to work for a male boss than a female boss. In a 1953 Gallup poll, 66% of those asked said they would prefer working for a man than for a woman. Although the statistics have changed dramatically since then, the number of respondents stating that they would prefer working for a woman has never exceeded 25%.

In a 2013 Gallup Poll that asked Americans, "If you were taking a new job and had your choice of a boss, would you prefer to work for a man or a woman?" respondents who had a preference still preferred to work for a man:

“Americans are still more likely to say they would prefer a male boss (33%) to a female boss (20%) in a new job, although 46% say it doesn't make a difference to them. While women are more likely than men to say they would prefer a female boss, they are still more likely to say they would prefer a male boss overall.”

The Implications

The poll data alone is not conclusive, but we can still see some interesting points. More women prefer to work for a man than another woman; however, of all respondents who stated they would prefer working for a woman, the majority are also women. Workers of both genders who currently have a female boss were more likely to prefer working for another woman in the future than for a man.

The above may suggest that not having worked for a woman before may be a factor in how respondents replied, and it might also be that workers, in general, feel men have more power and influence in the working world and therefore in a better position to offer advancement.

What Can Be Learned From This Data

Women are still seen as being less desirable to work for than male bosses, at least to some degree. Stereotypes may be one explanation as to why more people stated their preference for working for a man, but other 2013 Gallup poll statistics could suggest that one’s personal belief system and values may also be a factor:

  • 46% of Republican respondents preferred a male boss.
  • 16% of Republican respondents stated a preference for a female boss.
  • 29% of Democrat respondents chose male, and 25% said they would prefer working for a woman.

Republicans tend to have more conservative family values and different attitudes about the role of women in society and prefer working for men, while Democrats seemed to consider it a genderless issue. How one views women in the workforce and their role in society also appears to be a factor as to why certain groups lean in one direction or another.

People who work for a female boss—regardless of gender, age, or party line—were more likely to state they would choose another female boss. That attitude would seem to indicate women do make good bosses.

The Bottom Line

Women make great bosses, and so do men, but it would be unfair to say all men make great bosses because they are men, and that all women make great bosses because they are women. What makes a boss great has a lot less to do with gender than individual styles, approaches, and attitudes towards subordinates.