Male vs. Female Bosses
Copyright© 2008-2010 Automotive Dealers Network. All rights reserved.
By Bruce Cassels
Peoplewise Software ltd.
Bruce is Founder and President of Peoplewise Software.
With over 25 years of automotive retail, training and consulting
experience Bruce understands the staffing challenges that
face a modern Dealership.
Ella L.J. Edmondson Bell, an associate professor at the Tuck School of
Business examined one of the final frontiers of gender (in)equality in the
workplace: the perception of women as bitches–or at least bad bosses."
Bookmark and Share
AutoPro Training Solutions            I               Motorcycle Dealers Network
AutoPro Training Solutions            I               Motorcycle Dealers Network
Edmondson Bell surveyed her Dartmouth M.B.A. students to see whether they would prefer a male or female
manager and was alarmed to see an overwhelming 90% of the women preferred a male. Being ForbesWomen,
so were we. But a quick Google search had us reeling: The preference by women for male over female bosses
is common knowledge in the study of workplace dynamics. (This sad truth on the heels of a major
breakthrough for women as they surpass men in the workforce for the first time in history.)

The findings of a 2008 study from The University of Toronto revealed that women working under a sole female
supervisor reported more distress and physical stress symptoms than women working under a lone male
supervisor. The same stress levels were reported for a male/female supervising team, hinting that the very
presence of a woman in a position of power is a stress trigger for female employees.

Edmondson Bell referenced another study. “Last year in a survey of 2,000 British women in full or part-time
employment, 63% said they’d prefer a male over a female boss. According to the research, reported in
London’s Daily Mail and other media outlets, most felt men were stronger decision makers and better at ’
steering the ship.’”

An article on summed up the general sentiment succinctly: “Female bosses fall into
one of two categories,” according to an article on “B*tches or bimbos.” The feature examines the stereotypes
of women bosses as “dragon ladies” as perpetuated by movies like The Devil Wears Prada.

Confident that the ForbesWoman community–empowered women that they are–would tell us otherwise, or at
the very least make sense of this preference, we took the question to Facebook and LinkedIn. Surely they
prefer a female supervisor. Working on the all-female ForbesWoman team, we prepared ourselves to be
proven right. But boy, were we wrong.

“A man any day of the week,” says Stephanie Rovengo on Facebook, “They do not have those female cat
fight instincts.”

Zaida Sarely Mauricio agrees, adding: “Because [we] women are very competitive with each other… emotions
and feelings get in the way.”

“I’d prefer a man,” says Tamara Bowman, also on Facebook. “I’ve had one good female manager but most of
my spectacularly bad managers have been female.”

Diana Dietzschold Bourgeois continues: “Women have been evil bosses to me in the past.”

In fact, when the responses on Facebook are tallied, of the 25 women who spoke up, 19 were adamant that
men make the better bosses–and that they would choose a male boss over a female boss if given the option.,
“A man hands down!” attests Annette A. Wilson in the Facebook conversation.

“Women can be conniving and backstabbing while giving you the nice-nasty smile.” Lynn Maria Thompson
says, “Absolutely a man, and I speak from personal experience. Women I’ve worked for, with only one
exception, tended to feel threatened by me, whereas men were better mentors.”

On LinkedIn, Wayne Tarkin offers a possible explanation for the idea that women don’t live up to expectations
in mentoring employees: “There’s a split between successful women and those who don’t feel themselves
successful,” he says. “This fosters resentment and the impression that women who have made it are not
helping others [to] get there.”

Frequent commenter Bridget ‘Snarky’ Thornton did a great job of summing up just how uncomfortable we feel
about all of this “women bosses are bad” business.

“I had this conversation with a friend last week,” she says. “We were angry with ourselves for preferring a male
boss but we both agreed that the level of competitiveness and lack of support among women in the workplace.
We MUST address this issue and realize what women can accomplish collectively if we worked together in the
same way men do.”

Who are we to argue? As women who consider ourselves champions of women in business, shouldn’t we be
the best bosses of other women? Shouldn’t we know best about developing other women to be the best, most
proactive and collaborative employees?

Or, as Ana Budeanu puts it, If we don’t have faith as women that women can be good bosses, why would we
think that someone else should give us the opportunity? If we don’t believe in ourselves, who’s ever going to
believe in us?

Over to you readers:

Would you prefer a male boss or a female boss?
Tell us - and share some of the stories–both good
and bad–about the bosses in your past.