Confidence

Female bosses: The pros and cons of working for a woman

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Do you have a female boss, or can remember one you’ve had in the past? And are you remembering because she was a terrific, supportive mentor and coach, or because she was a high-maintenance nightmare? Are female bosses better than a male one — or much worse?

We’ve discussed the fact that women tend to prefer male bosses over female ones, and the terms that are most often used to describe women in power (many of them not pleasant words). But today we are going to actually weigh up the positive and negatives against each other; the factors that can make working for them either hell, or one of the most rewarding experiences you can have.

The pros and cons of female bosses

Here are some of the pros and cons shared with us by women in business who have had both male and female bosses.

Pros:

  • They may be more sympathetic and understanding, especially if you are going on maternity leave, have an ill child and similar life-priority situations. They understand and relate to the fact that, as a woman, you have other commitments that men don’t.
  • Females are generally considered to be more approachable than male bosses, as women are acknowledged as being more empathetic and better communicators.
  • According to an article by careers writer Anthony Balderrama, women have more of a creative career path than men, meaning they have risen through the ranks by doing the actual work of the business well, rather than through the accounting or pure management path. This means they understand and acknowledge when their own staff are performing well.
  • [tweet_quote hashtags=”@annaleacrowe” ]Women may be more comfortable dealing with other women[/tweet_quote] than with men, even in confrontational situations, as there is no gender gap and thus a reduced risk of miscommunication, according to Anna Crowe.

Cons:

  • Author and counselor Barbara Archer says women bosses can have an unfortunate tendency to become jealous and backbiting over time. At first they appear to be friendly, but can later turn on you once you start becoming successful and making a name for yourself in the business.
  • Because it is so hard for women to succeed in business, female leaders may hold or even push fellow women down in order to secure their own position.
  • There has been a lot of discussion about whether or not women’s behavior in the workplace suffers from hormonal changes. What is often ignored is that men also go through hormonal changes. Women also get just as tired, burnt out, frustrated and stressed as men do, but we need to remember that impressions of women’s behavior in the workplace are often amplified by the myth that they are at the mercy of their hormones. Yes, it will be difficult to deal with your female boss if she is stressed, tired and frustrated. It will be equally difficult to deal with a male boss under the same circumstances.

Opinions on female bosses

Female bosses are often effective managers, and this has been proven. Numerous studies, including the Gallup Poll survey of nearly 27 million employees worldwide, have proven that female bosses often do better than their male counterparts at work because they are better at driving employee engagement.

However, it seems that gender stereotypes and prejudice continue to hamper women’s office lives. For example, 55% of our respondents partially agreed, or strongly agreed, that female bosses are consistently subjected to higher performance expectations than men.
So, as gender expectations and our vision of what makes a successful woman have evolved, the pressure for perfection remains enormous.

At the very least, while expectations remain high, satisfaction with female bosses appears relatively high as well. 90% of our respondents worked in a team led by a woman manager, of those 59% currently work in a team led by a woman. 70% of them found the female bosses efficient, overall , of those 49% said they were highly efficient. Therefore, it is not surprising that 67% of respondents have a positive attitude towards women managing their teams, and 62% of them have positive feelings about women leading their organizations.

We were happy to see that 38% of respondents would prefer to work for a female boss, compared to 26% who would prefer to work for a man and 35% who have no preference.

Another pleasant surprise was that 38% of respondents think women are better at leadership positions compared to 35% of respondents who think men are better leaders.

Until then, so good. But don’t think that female bosses have an easy life. They face the same pressures of professional success as men, while simultaneously facing the old stereotype of being a caring woman.

Our results proved this persistence of certain beliefs, and the numbers were even more surprising when we divided respondents by gender. They show that gender expectations haven’t changed as much as you might believe, and trust in female bosses is much lower among men than among women.

Could this be remnants of beliefs about women not being fit for managerial jobs? Or maybe it’s because some men fear losing their own jobs and have a hard time accepting women in positions of authority? Although our findings do not exactly show the reason for such differences, the division of responses by gender cannot be denied.

Here’s what women said about female bosses:

  • 48% would prefer to work with female bosses.
  • 72% feel somewhat or very positively towards female bosses of their organizations.
  • Another 42% would trust a woman more than a man to lead a company.

What about men? The difference is shocking.

  • Only 28% of them would prefer to work for female bosses.
  • Only 53% feel somewhat or very positively towards female bosses of their organizations.
  • And a mere 17% would trust a woman more than a man to lead a company.

Conclusion

So which wins? Clearly there is no definitive answer as to whether or not female bosses are better than male bosses. But being able to identify the pros and cons will help you in dealing with either gender.

While women overall may prefer male bosses — and there are some negative words associated with female leaders — female bosses also bring a number of great things to their place of work and they should be appreciated for that.

About Natalie Cupac

Natalie Cupac Journalist & Features Writer for The Business Woman, Natalie Cupac is studying a double degree of Journalism and International Studies and has previously worked for Pacific Magazines

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