"Acting Like A Man": What It Means To Be A Good BossS

Can you talk about how men and women manage in the workplace without resorting to gendered stereotypes? Not if you're Forbes Woman. Still, it's worth asking why so many women say they prefer to work for a man.

Let's put aside, for a moment, the crudely generalizing subhead ("Male bosses are competitive and strategic thinkers. Women are team-builders and energizing. Is it reasonable to think one is better?") and take a look at the key question here. Forbes Woman asked on their Facebook page whether readers preferred to work for a man or a woman. "The majority replied, 'A man any day of the week,' to use the words of Stephanie Rovengo." There's more scientific data that shows this opinion to be held fairly broadly:

In the most recent Gallup data, from 2006, 34% of men preferred a male boss while 10% preferred a female boss, while 40% of women preferred a male boss and 26% preferred a female boss. (The remaining respondents of both genders had no preference.)

Why do people find it so hard to work for a woman? Oh wait, maybe women bosses are just crappy because women aren't meant to be in charge of anyone older than eleven. Luckily, the article has little time for that interpretation. Instead, it suggests that women bosses are judged more harshly than their male counterparts:

One explanation for the across-the-board preference of male leaders may be deeply instilled gender stereotypes held by both men and women. "The cultural model of a leader is masculine," says Eagly. "Leaders are thought to be people who are dominant and competitive and take charge and are confident. Those kinds of qualities are ascribed to men far more than women. Women are ascribed to be nice. We are, above all, nice."

This isn't new, of course. But it's disturbing to see crystallized the extent to which women have also internalized the resistance to "dominant and competitive" female leadership. What would it take to unlearn it?

Do Employees Prefer Male Or Female Bosses? [Forbes]