Are women better bosses than their male counterparts? According to the latest Gallup poll released this week, no. The latest figures, based on polling of 2,059 adults, 41 percent of respondents choose a male boss over a female leader. Only 23 percent choose a female boss. The good news? That figure is higher than ever. It is also noteworthy that 32 percent have no preference.
In 1952, the first year Gallup asked the question, only five percent of those surveyed preferred a female boss. Sixty-three percent favored a male boss. Could it be that in 1952 women were limited in the workplace positions they could hold? Perhaps. But why does such a difference remain today?
According to Gallup, complainants noted that female bosses are micromanagers, that they hold grudges and that they are unable to make decisions. But according to Open Forum’s Barry Moltz, who also surveyed groups concerning female bosses, women have a lot to offer in the workplace.
They are considered better listeners and communicators. They have stronger business ethics and more patience. They are better at building community within the workplace and they are better at activating passion. These are all fine traits, but do they serve women well in the marketplace? Will they send a female worker to the top of the corporate ladder?
Certainly, these traits make for great team management and cohesive work situations but will they run a company? Will they make for stellar profits and happy board members? Will these traits cause stock prices to rise? Taking a look at two women at the top of their game would suggest a resounding “no.”
Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, famously brought workers back into the office. One of the perks of working at Yahoo was the ability to set up shop at home. In one of her first moves, Mayer eliminated the practice and forced all workers back into the office in order to create a “team” mentality. What she did was anger a lot of employees and earn the label for which women are expected to cringe. Angering workers further, she had a nursery installed in her own office area for her newborn, seeming to defeat the purpose she espoused.
She’s taken hits recently for her frivolous interview session with Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence and her Vogue cover. It is hard to imagine a male CEO fawning over a barely out of his teens movie star on company time and getting his hair blown back for a fashion spread.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of facebook, takes equal hits for her book, Lean In, advising women on all matters work related. Women note that advice from a privileged woman with adequate childcare and millions of dollars rings hollow. She was taken to task for advertising for a non-paid intern to work with her when her own bank account hovers in the millions of millions. It is also interesting to note in her work history that barely out of school she became Chief of Staff to the US Secretary of the Treasury. It is not to say that men have not traded in the “whom you know” card, it just seems women must prove they made it on their own.
For average women, the work day does not consist of dressing beautifully, having child care regardless of how late one works, depending on superior health care and a supportive spouse.
Certainly, Mayer and Sandberg have paid their dues. They put off childbearing until their careers were secured. They worked their way up the ranks. They put in long hours, studied exhaustively, missed lots of parties along the way and put up with cruddy bosses. But, when they became bosses they forgot that for most women, the climb includes children, elder care, non-Harvard educations, unsupportive or non-existent spouses, low paying jobs, no day care and no designer bags on their backs. In short, they forgot the struggle.
So why do people prefer a male boss? It’s not because women are terrible bosses. It’s because women are so busy carrying the rest of the world, only some of them have time to be the boss.
Written by Linda Torkelson