Why Are Female Bosses Less Welcome Than Male Ones?

      November 12, 2009 07:29

      As more women enter the workforce, the number of female bosses is rising, but it seems that they are not yet as welcome as men at the top of the corporate ladder.

      In an online poll conducted by the Chosun Ilbo and its sister cable channel Business &, 64 percent of respondents said they preferred to have male bosses over female ones. The poll surveyed 853 office workers in their 20s to 40s (457 men and 396 women) between Oct. 21-26.

      ◆ More Female Workers Unhappy with Female Bosses

      Some 34.1 percent of female respondents said they preferred female bosses over male ones, while 37.6 percent of male respondents said the same, showing that women tend to have more reservations about working under women bosses than men do.   

      Among those who had experience working under female bosses, the difference in attitudes became more noticeable. Of the 356 female respondents who had worked with a female boss, 48.6 percent said they would be happy to do so again, while of the 382 men with such experience, 55.5 percent approved of it.

      One positive finding was that both men and women said they ended up developing a favorable impression of female bosses after working under one. This was especially true for male respondents.

      ◆ Female Bosses Jealous of Subordinates

      It seems that both men and women are of the same mind when it comes to what they do not like about female bosses. Men cited as drawbacks of female bosses "mood swings" (43.5 percent), "self-centeredness" (17.9 percent), "lack of drive" (16.0 percent) and "jealousy" (7.9 percent), while women complained of "mood swings" (50.76 percent), "jealousy" (14.7 percent) and "self-centeredness" (12.4 percent).

      Of note was the fact that women complained of jealously more than men did. Female respondents said that their female bosses viewed them as rivals or scolded them for non-work-related issues such as physical appearance or personal matters.

      Kang Hye-ryun, a professor of business management at Ewha Womans University, said, "Women are not the only ones to feel a sense of rivalry with their subordinates. Male bosses also keep a wary eye on male subordinates if they think they pose a threat."

      Communication Clinic president Kong Mun-seon said, "Bosses might think they are being thoughtful, but to subordinates, paying too close attention may feel like nagging. A boss should be like a big sister who points out mistakes, but also listens carefully to problems that subordinates may have." Kong added, "Male subordinates also prefer a big sister-type female boss who is approachable, rather than one who is too feminine or too macho."

      ◆ Female Bosses Need Leadership Skills    

      Professor Kang advised women bosses not to dwell on how hard they have worked to reach the top but to remember that they are now in a leadership position -- they should not feel that they have to solve every problem but rather delegate duties so that subordinates can have a chance to grow.

      "Women bosses need to realize that employees get more energized when working under a boss who delegates 'missions' rather than one who tries to handle everything themselves," Kang added.

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