Confident Leader

The pros and cons of female bosses

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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? Is a female boss 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.

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

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.
  • Women may be more comfortable dealing with other women 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.

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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