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.
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.