Americans Prefer a Male Boss to a Female Boss

A Gallup poll released yesterday found that Americans still prefer a male boss over a female, when taking a new job. The good news is that even more workers had no preference at all.


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Four out of 10 survey respondents said that had no preference whatsoever as to the gender of their manager. Thirty-five percent said they preference a male boss; 23 percent preferred a female boss. Gallup notes that these numbers haven’t changed much in recent years, although they have changed significantly since they first asked this question in 1953, when 66 percent of Americans preferred working for a man, and only 5 percent preferred working for a woman.

Most interestingly, the gender breakdown showed that women had a stronger preference as to whether they wanted to work for a man or a woman — regardless of what their preferences were.

“Women are more likely than men to prefer both male bosses (40 percent versus 29 percent) and female bosses (27 percent versus 18 percent), while just over half of men are indifferent to the gender of the big kahuna,” writes Katy Waldman at Slate. Waldman then asks: “(Women: More opinionated in general? Or more sensitive to questions of gender in the workplace?)”

There are still more male bosses than female ones in the American workplace: 54 percent currently work for a man, while 30 percent work for a woman. Those who work for a male boss currently would prefer to work for one in the future, while respondents who work for a female boss are divided on which gender they’d prefer in a manager.

Gallup says that this divided preference among those who work for female managers might indicate that workers will be more willing to report to a woman in the future; as the number of women in charge increases, the theory goes, so will the number of people who are comfortable having women in charge.

On the other hand, workers between the ages of 35 and 54 were most comfortable with female bosses, with younger workers’ opinions aligning with the average. This “suggests that the aging of today’s workforce may not in and of itself produce changes in these attitudes in the years ahead,” Gallup says.

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