Here’s a surprising find from a recent academic study: women in leadership positions aren’t improving prevailing workplace gender inequalities. (You can read the full MIT-led study here.) So, if you are a female employee working under a female manager, the odds of getting a certain coveted position or a raise are NOT any better than if under a male supervisor, according to this study.
As someone who has worked under both female and male supervisors, I can say that it’s difficult to judge how my career trajectory might have been different if my boss for job X had been male instead of female (or vice versa). Would I have gotten meatier assignments, or advanced further up the career ladder? Would I have substantially greater responsibilities and higher earning power today?
Even if there’s no statistical career advantage in working under a female supervisor, the study brings up an interesting question. What are the benefits to having a male boss versus a female boss?
ForbesWoman blogger Susannah Breslin was unapologetic when she candidly stated in a May 2012 post that she’d rather work for a man than a woman. She brings up some good arguments with her (somewhat controversial) reasoning that, in her own words, men are more powerful, less threatened, and less emotional.
I’m not sure I agree with all of Breslin’s assertions. I work with a lot of males, and I don’t exactly work somewhere that has a “leave all emotions at the door” checkpoint. I’m torn as to my preferences between a male or female boss, and here’s why:
Women bond more quickly into friendship.
It’s been my experience that whether woman’s 22 or 82, I’ll want to bond with a friendly-mannered female and, with regular interaction, we’ll become friends. Maybe that’s why I still keep in touch with nearly every single female boss I worked with on a regular basis, and I have only limited, casual contact with male counterparts. I can also see that perhaps this same predilection for friendship may have also made me thinner-skinned when encountering work-related criticisms, or less willing to want to rock the boat by asking for a raise or an other big change.
With males, there has always been a line of professionalism that prevents a business relationship from bleeding into a friendship. Sure, I might talk sports or pop culture with a male higher-up, but I won’t volunteer details about, say, my dating life that I have discussed with said female bosses. I reserve THAT kind of talk for male coworkers my own age and pay-grade, if at all.
We keep in touch with those we relate to.
Unless we are super connectors (which I am not, although the more I learn about networking, the closer I get), we generally keep in touch with bosses and colleagues with whom we’ve established a good rapport. As I mentioned, I have a great track record of staying in touch with former female supervisors. If needed, I know I could shoot them an email for some quick advice or a deeper career-related issue, and get a quick and helpful response. Won’t that ease of continuing connection be better for me in the long haul?
Men are (generally) better at being straight shooters.
A bit politically incorrect of me to generalize, I know, but based on my experiences, professionally and otherwise, women are less likely to be confrontational. If I want solid, immediate feedback on whether or not my work meets expectations or falls short, I’d personally prefer a male boss. There’s no sugar coating or niceties, and some people prefer that approach.
I can certainly see that working in a male-dominated industry might be good for me in that I’m forced to make my own case. Do you have prefer a male or female boss? Please share!