In Career

Would you prefer a female or a male boss?

Update: This post was written in 2015, a good 5 years ago. I no longer hold the same views 100% and do not believe in what I wrote then as 100%. Some points are still valid, not all of them.

I have come off a project where the male boss was terrible. Fking micromanagerial, horrible, petty, and one of the worst ones I have ever had, male or female.

I have also been on another project where I only had female bosses and they were, AMAZING. To say nothing of how smart, supportive and tough they were to fight for me and their team, they were the best bosses I have ever had

It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, what matters is you do the job. You’re organized, you’re smart, competent, and supportive.

In recent years, I have found male bosses to be equally if not worse than female ones for the traits I mistakenly assumed to be female below.

(Yes I am saying I was wrong in 2015 to write this article.)

I have encountered male bosses who have indulged in defending their own friends at the office, overlooking serious competencies and issues just because they’re buddies or men, and it is much worse than I had imagined.

I have encountered female bosses who have been the same.

And…. gasp….  I have worked for male AND FEMALE bosses who are amazing. It isn’t limited to one gender at all, it is the individual who matters.

Lastly, because males disproportionately make up the ranks of managers and bosses versus females, it is easy to see how stupid I was to assume that guys were more competent as those are the only gender I had encountered as bosses, and the ONE female manager I had was terrible, so she soured me early on in my career.

This was an incorrect, and wrong judgement to make. 100% I do not believe any longer in what I wrote in 2015 below. If we had more females as managers, like 50%, we would see instantly that it depends on the individual, not the gender that makes up a great boss.


/end humble apology

==========

This is the old post I had written. Please assume male/female to be interchangeable as they can both equally be bad and good, it depends on the individual.

In my line of work (STEM occupation, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), I prefer a male boss, which makes it easier because most STEM fields are full of men, and have very little women.

That said, every time I have joined a company, I always seem to get stuck with a woman manager about 80% of the time.

I don’t know what it is about being a woman that makes Human Resources (HR) think that you should be paired with another woman, but it has always ended up in me liking NONE of them.

(I have also had male and female project managers, whom I consider to be “managers” as well.)

A friend told me it’s because I think / act more like a guy at work than most women, which I took at face value — that I act “differently” from my stereotyped gender, but it’s not necessarily bad or good.

Maybe just due to the sheer nature of my job, I act stereotypically like a guy at work.

I am not saying all these reasons are true, I am saying this is from my observation of having both men and women as managers.

1. MEN DON’T TEND TO MICRO-MANAGE YOU

I have yet to meet a male boss that micromanages me the way women do.

Guys tend to kind of leave you alone, and not bother you until they need something like a performance review to satisfy their bosses.

2. MEN ARE MORE LIKELY TO FIGHT FOR MORE MONEY FOR YOU

Women are pretty shy about fighting for their OWN salaries and bonuses, which makes them less likely as managers, to want to go to bat for their employees to ask for money.

I am not saying all men do this, or that women do NOT do this at all, but guys tend to be more aggressive for these kinds of things, which is part of the reason why we women lag so far behind in salary.

3. MEN DON’T WANT TO “TALK IT OUT”

Every time there has been a conflict with a female manager, she has wanted to sit down face-to-face and “talk it out”.

I hate these stupid “talk it out sessions”, because it goes nowhere for me.

I usually always express what I am upset about (salary, working conditions, etc), and that’s it.

I don’t see what else we have to talk about, when I have already told you what I think is wrong.

I can sit down and explain to you my logic of why I think that I should get more money (mostly because people around me don’t do jack squat and I feel resentful), but you can’t talk to me and get me to change my mind about feeling resentful because my team members are lazy slackers by saying things like:

Oh but it’s because she’s going through a rough time right now with the wedding and the house buying, and we as team players need to help pick up the slack.

…then feel angry when I respond:

We? Who’s we?

You mean ME because I’m doing the work  of 2 people now, and picking up her slack, right?

(Note: I actually talk like this.)

Men tend to listen to you, hear what you’re saying, listen to your logic, and then take action to find a compromise that suits everyone.

4. WOMEN DEFEND THEIR FRIENDS AT WORK

This one irks me the most. If they’re friends with someone else, they can’t see the forest for the trees. She can do no wrong, even if it screws up everything and you need to do double the amount of work to fix it.

Men do this too, but to a lesser extent.

Men seem to be able to separate their work friendships from their job, knowing that they are not really going to stick their necks out THAT FAR to save a work friend, if they’ll be the ones axed because the job wasn’t done correctly.

Women are more loyal in this sense, and will stick their necks out very, very far for a friend.

This is both good and bad.

Stock-Business-Men-Meeting-Work-Career-Job.png

5. WOMEN LET MOLEHILLS BECOME MOUNTAINS

The last observation I’ve noticed is that women tend to brush things aside, and not want to start a fight or a conflict over something that they should have taken charge of sooner.

I was on a project once where this slacker who basically didn’t know his job, was faking his way through the work, and the client was getting irate because he was noticing that things were not progressing on his end.

We ALL noticed that the client was getting more and more annoyed, and the woman project manager was the only one who was totally oblivious or trying to pretend like it wasn’t happening (I think she thought it would somehow “work itself out”, which it never does).

We even told her on several occasions that he was NOT GETTING HIS WORK DONE.

She had no response, and no action plan on getting it done, she just frustrated the rest of us by doing nothing about it.

It escalated to the point where the client had to request the guy be fired from the project, and then she turned around and blew up on the rest of us for not covering for him in front of the client.

I am not even kidding.

This is a prime example of women managers letting problems like these mini molehills, become mountains due to lack of action, aversion to conflict and lack of decisiveness.

ON THE FLIP SIDE….

A. WOMEN TEND TO WORK HARDER AND ARE MORE PROFESSIONAL

The women who I come across at work, tend to work harder to prove themselves, and are more professional. They really try to do a good job, whereas I find guys tend to slack off a bit more than women on average.

Not all women are like this, and I find it is usually WOMEN managers who are not more professional, for whatever reason, they don’t feel that kind of drive or pressure to be better than everyone else when they reach a managerial level.


B. WOMEN TEND TO CUT YOU A BIT MORE SLACK

Your kid got sick and you have to run off and pick him or her up and work the rest of the day from home?

Women are more likely to be sympathetic to this, men are not.

They’re also more likely to remind you to go to the dentist regularly and to not put off those things just because of work.

C. WOMEN TEND TO GIVE YOU OR THE TEAM CREDIT

Men have an instinct to hog the credit in front of clients and their bosses, women do not.

Women tend to say: It was the team, not just me.

I think it comes from trying to please everyone and be nice.

The only other thing I’ve noticed about women managers is they don’t tend to like ambitious young women as employees because they feel threatened by them.

It’s something I’ve noticed over and over again. Older women tend to undercut younger women in an attempt to hold on to their job and superiority in doing said job.

Men also feel threatened by young employees who are ambitious, but are more likely to assume they will also rise a level if you rise a level, so they see it as working itself out for the best in the end.

I think it’s safe to say that no one wonders why I do not want to ever become a manager. There’s just too much crap and office politics to contend with. I just want to do my job.

That said, the best manager I have seen in my years of working was a woman.

She was a lot like me (unsurprisingly it’s why I liked her), and I wished really hard she was my manager instead of who I got stuck with in the end.

HOW ABOUT YOU? WOULD YOU PREFER A MALE OR A FEMALE BOSS?

Share Tweet Pin It +1

Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

You may also like

Previous PostPublic transportation versus cars
Next PostWhy are we bored?

31 Comments

  1. Advice for Women in Management – Doctor Weasel's Secret Laboratory

    […] to work for male bosses.  Among women, the preference for a male boss is stronger than it is among men.   Why is that??  If women prefer male bosses, you can’t blame sexism.  Well, not […]

    Reply
  2. Tali Deals

    Yes finally….you said it all and I agree with you. I got thrown under the bus and completely blind-sided by one female supervisor…. and everything you said was true. I currently have a amle boss who is on 2 wks overseas… It was only on the first day that he asked if I was in the office. I responded straight away yes… after 1 or 2 questions related to work he left me alone. He trusts me and I hope more females can do that too with their fellow employees. He will even talk to others who are supposed to be working for me as contractors to get certain stuff done (when he finds out they aren’t pulling their weight). That’s the kind of boss you need. Someone who is willing to let you manage but step in to help as well.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      That said, I have a male boss who is a micro-manager now.. so.. 😛

      Reply
  3. Tina

    I am a woman and I prefer a male boss. I’ve never had a male boss micromanage me. I’ve been micromanaged by women, one time to the point that I walked off the job. Men tend to leave you alone and let you work. Women tend to hover and be more emotional, moody, and passive aggressive. Men tend to be more direct, which I like. Women judge each other by how much of a “friend” you are to them. That’s schoolyard BS. Men seem to be better at separating their work and private lives. Then there’s the type of female boss that tells you massive amounts of TMI about her personal life and treats you like her therapist or sounding board and you are a captive audience, unable to tell her what you really think.
    To me, men have been better mentors, better coaches, more willing to promote me, and their management/work style appeals to me way more. It’s not PC to say it, but women have held me back and made my life miserable at work in a way that men never have. As a follow-up to the MeToo movement, we as women really need to take a good look at the ways in which women tear down other women.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I would have agreed until this year. it is the opposite where I work, the women are the ones who are direct and fair, the men are the micromanagers

      Reply
  4. KR

    OMG you nailed it. I have been looking for a website that can helps me deal with this issue. I admired my manager she works hard, but when conflicts araised among the team 4 women 2 men she can’t do nothing right, just to side with my lead and protect the guys. Lead is a sweetheart when she wants to be, but a psychopath maniac that will lie just to be able to keep her grasp on your neck, not allowing you to crosstrain because somehow you are both her right hand and the team beast of burden. I am flabbergasted because for some unknown reason this guy’s has turn on this two women motherhood hormones and while they are lazy as hell, I mean this guy’s are clearly doing the bare minimum she will do anything to protect them like they are their little children. I have even been told they are just two very shy guys that is why they don’t ask questions to us the 3 scary bitches in the room. Yes he have no problem looking at my face and mocking a nervous tick I do, until I told him to stop or I will go to HR. Or when she harshly compared the youngest woman of our team for not creating a one page presentation with the creative design standard that she should have, lead is a times Roman freak, only font she considers to be of quality. But not this other guy he will take weeks doing it but it will be a work of art. Who cares! It wasn’t our department request 1st, requestor clearly ask for just a sketch and neither the good or the average quality got use anyway. What I care is that this guy slacks around while this young woman has updated all her 100+ layouts that needs to be released with a deadline. It is so difficult because this women’s behavior disgust me and it shocks me to the point that I very much wants to go back to work with my old school male manager and the 15 guys I work with before. Whose only cons was that he wanted to protect me, I hated everytime he said, protect me from whom!! But honestly I think that he still have an interest on letting you move up the ladder but he wanted to be him the one I thank for it or ask for it and I hated that too. But a lot, lot, lot less now. Yes I rather work for a chauvinistic manager than an old school mother like figure woman manager or lead.
    She even ask me in a tone of reprehension why the guys were not in a farewell lunch we had, well cause they are men!! Haven’t they figured out that, they give a damn about this stuff sometimes.. What I am, their keeper!! How much that one bothers me, so my job is not only to keep crazy lead happy I have to care for the happiness of those slackers too. I won’t do that, is not going to happen. I need patience a bunch of it, cause it is driving me crazy to listen to them. And don’t tell me to talk it out cause it is useless.

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    I feel for women in STEM careers. It’s a field that doesn’t attract a lot of women and the way to survive is to be one of the boys. I feel like the women working in STEM are still paving the way. I’m not sure if that field will ever attract enough women even with women like you paving the way.

    Anyway, I’m a woman and psychologists have actually done legit studies on this asking both men and women what kind of boss they would rather have, gave them exact the same resumes, just changed the genders and names. Most men and women preferred male bosses.

    They’ve done these experiments over and over again and most people want a male boss. Just like Amanda, my worst boss was a woman and then my best boss was a woman. I don’t really care what the gender is because my experience has been so mixed but generally I hate young female and male bosses.

    I prefer older bosses although I’ve had older bad bosses but generally young bosses are the worst and I’m in college. So I’m not some old person picking on young bosses. When I was working at a retail store, this was before college, I had a male assistant manager who micro-managed me to death.

    Another time a younger male boss asked me if I wanted my job because I had the flu and I was calling out every day. I couldn’t go to work, didn’t feel well, and he was just nasty about it.

    I just hated working with him. Another time I had a female boss that graduated from college a few months before she got her job and she was micro-managing me one day to death. Another young female boss was just downright rude to me.

    Then another female boss refused to let me leave even though it was time for me to be off the clock and took out her anger out on me. I just don’t like younger bosses. It seems to me they haven’t found what works for them, they don’t know how to deal with people and different personalities and they don’t always understand that life happens to people.

    I only had one good female boss and she was in her late twenties. She knew how to deal with people, how to be fair to everyone, she was there to help whenever our team needed help.

    She didn’t take out her frustrations out on you if she was having a difficult day. She was the best boss I ever had, man or woman. BTW, all these bosses that I worked with were either in retail or low wage jobs which most people hate and these experiences motivated me to go to college.

    Then I get even with all these people by writing terrible reviews about the companies on glassdoor or Google reviews.

    My bf worked at one place, he’s a software developer, and in the accounting department at this middle-sized company, the accounting department heads were women and they promoted women, and finally one day they hired a male accounting clerk but yeah between the two of us we’ve seen a lot of drama in the workplace that’s for sure.

    Surveys have been done with people about why they hate their job or quit it, and a lot of times people quit or hate their job because the boss is bad.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I just hate being a boss because I know I’d turn into a micromanager-y nagger. Or maybe not. Who knows, but I would certainly not want to manage others seeing as I get frustrated too easily.

      Reply
  6. NZ Muse

    I’ve had a pretty even mix of bosses over the years now. I’m not willing to draw any firm lines as my experience doesn’t lend itself to it. Pretty much all my bosses have been good through to great; that said, I would actually rate the women at the top. I’ve recently had one male boss who probably had more stereotypically ‘female’ traits – the friendliness, the talking it out, being all about relationships … and that was quite interesting.

    Reply
  7. SP

    Can you share more about how many different managers/project managers you have experienced? I get the idea it’s quite a few, but just curious. I really don’t like that we’re talking about male vs female, as if gender norms define the person and it is up to people to be exceptions from the norm… but I get it. That is how the world generally works & sees things.

    I’ve never had a woman for a direct manager or even just a day-to-day mentor/supervisor type, although I’ve seen several and worked in some context with several in leadership positions. I’ve largely been impressed by the women in leadership – but it is hard to say what it would have been like to work directly for them. In my field, I’ve met very few women who I’d classify as catty, micromanage-y, or any of the pitfalls you mentioned.

    My last project manager was the WORST micromanager – and male.

    So, I can’t say that I have a preference, but I’m much more used to male bosses. A woman would be an interesting change.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Every project I am on has different managers, and some have multiples. I’ve had about 35 project managers and managers. The ratio split, to your point, is very low for women though. Only 3 women managers out of that 30.

      As for women consultants whom I work with however, I have not experienced this problem. WOMEN consultants, or fellow ones, are VERY good to work with. I don’t know what happens and who gets promoted to the top, but when they do, it never seems to be the same.

      Reply
  8. middle class

    I realize most of your readership is female and only a handful responded, but it does seem every time this question comes up, women say they prefer men. Maybe that’s why males get promoted because BOTH men & women prefer male bosses? Just saying… I do think female bosses may be held to higher standards and are more afraid of making mistakes, hence the micro-management tendencies?

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Hey you know you make a really good point.

      Female bosses and managers ARE held to a higher standard to prove themselves over men, so maybe yes, they turn into micromanagers who try and make sure everything is perfect so nothing goes wrong.

      To that point, I guess if I were a manager, I’d be somewhat of a neurotic mini micromanager if I don’t see people delivering… I am already like that as a consultant so I guess it would intensify.

      Reply
  9. Taylor Lee @ Engineer Cents

    From my limited experience, the gender breakdowns of boss managing styles has been different for me than for you. All the micromanaging I’ve gotten has always been from male colleagues and bosses. Female colleagues have always trusted me to just do my own thing and get shit done. It’s my male colleagues and bosses who get sucked down the rabbit hole on small issues and then want to have a heart-to-heart conversation about why I don’t seem to smile enough (hint: it’s because I think you’re incompetent).

    I think part of it is that my female colleagues do a crap ton of work; I don’t know why but women are seen as more capable of actually following through with tasks at my company so we give them more work with no extra respect or pay. So the women are too busy to get all touchy feely and philosophical with their work while the guys (obviously not all of them, but a subset do) wanker around with stuff that doesn’t matter.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      *LAUGH*!!!!!!

      That makes me really laugh because I am thinking of my current male managers and you’re right, they can start to have stereotypes about the way women act at work.

      Reply
    2. save. spend. splurge.

      Maybe equality will appear once women are in executive positions and are paid a lot of money but can’t do the job…. just like men. I see a lot of ineffective, incompetent, well-paid men at the top. Until women reach THAT “standard”, we will not have equality.

      Reply
  10. Vivien

    Well, we don’t know the reasons why that particular boss lady stood up for the slacker. Personal, so-so’s son, reasons go on…
    In the years I’ve been in business, I’ve learned there’s always a reason for someone doing something even if we can’t see the reason on our end since each person has their own personal goals/incentives/benchmarks to achieve @ review.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      A very good point. We all have our own rationality.

      Reply
  11. Amanda @ My Life, I Guess

    My best boss ever was a woman, although my worst boss was female as well. I’ve had a pretty even mix of good and bad with both genders, so I don’t know which I’d prefer. Can’t I be my own boss instead??

    Reply
  12. Michelle...

    Heh. In my previous job (scientist in an acadaemic situation), I would have said absolutely true. However, I’m now working in a government research institute, it’s completely the opposite. But I’m thinking that it’s actually the culture of the place, not the gender of my managers…..

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Interesting. The culture breeds the type of manager then? More aggressive, means that everyone is more on edge, etc, etc?

      Reply
  13. middle class

    From my experience and observations, female bosses seem to more willing to promote other women, while men often under-value female workers and would rather promote men. I think the best boss is a male boss with a working wife!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Oh YES. That is true. I have a manager whose wife stays at home and it’s always a lot of ribbing about how I don’t spend enough time at work.

      Reply
  14. ArianaAuburn

    OMG….This is spot on! The best bosses I had were men (because they left me alone!) while the female bosses were all micro-managers and (worse) preoccupied with resolving office politic conflicts (gossip) which is B.S. I also found that negotiating a raise or higher salary with female bosses was more conflicting than with male bosses.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I always had to fight with my women managers. They never wanted to give me a break probably in fear of looking like they were favouring women.

      Reply
  15. Kathy

    Recognizing that we females are supposed to be so supportive of women’s equality and “the cause” for women’s rights, I have to say that I would by far prefer a male boss as opposed to a female. In my personal experience, females are more petty and insecure. They look at other competent females as threats or competition. They are more likely to hold grudges and contrary to what you mentioned in item A of your pro-female segment, they are less professional (especially with dress code and office gossip) and do not work as hard as men. In my experience, the women expect special treatment when it comes to time off for children and are reluctant to travel for the job due to children. Give me a male boss any time over a female.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Hmm. In my experience, the women are more professional in my industry / line of work.

      For me, I do take a lot of time off for Baby Bun & I refuse to travel but my partner is the same. He just doesn’t get flack for it.

      Reply
      1. Kathy

        @save. spend. splurge.:
        The difference is that when I worked in government, the women didn’t want to travel but the men didn’t have a choice.

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          Interesting. SO preferential treatment given to women because they were mothers?

          Reply
  16. Suzi

    You said it all pretty spot on. I will just add: I like men better too simply for the reason that women are catty (by nature) and generally there’s too much drama for my taste. That, and I have no children, so guess who gets to stay over, come in on a Saturday morning, or “cover”? Yep, me- and I resent it. I have a life & family too! Thanks for the vent. 🙂

    Reply

Leave a Reply