It is interesting that many women have publicly admitted their reticence in working for a female boss. Given a choice, they would work for a man. Why is that so? Did they not have a pleasant experience working with women? Were they ineffective leaders, emotional or micro managing kinds? None of the above actually. In fact many of them have not even worked for one in their entire professional lives.
The simple answer is that it is a flippant response, not well thought out and one based primarily on stereotypes and biases. To begin with, many still see men as leaders and believe that’s the path to their own success. It is far easy to accept a male boss, because we have grown up seeing that. A male leader fits the shoes of a leader, he has to be more capable and adept in leading us. We are comfortable taking orders and directions from a man versus a woman. We feel a man will promote us compared to a woman. Because a woman boss may see her own interests ahead of ours. She may be threatened or feel insecure with our good performance and hence put an impediment in our career growth.
Furthermore, we believe men are better connected than women leaders are. And if we have to grow, we need those connections. We are also wary of women’s work styles. They may be the emotional or the unbalanced kinds. We want to stay away from that unwanted baggage and really focus on the job at hand. Who wants to deal with tantrums and other home related issues? They may micromanage our work and not give us the freehand in our work.
The above and much more form the basis of our reluctance to work for a woman leader. Interestingly, men don’t harbor such perceptions about female bosses. In fact, many admit having a wonderful experience working for them. Besides their capability, they find women’s empathy, concern for them as individuals, quite endearing and effective. To this some women may say that women bosses are nicer to men than to women.
Regardless and despite this dichotomy of perceptions, we still want to see more women in leadership roles. We want everyone to advocate and champion this effort. We want men to partner in this quest too. And yet, we simply forget that we also need to push the envelope forward. Because if we are not amenable to working for women bosses, how will women become leaders?
So let’s all take a moment to rethink our reasons for why we don’t want to work for a woman boss. We are likely to find your reasons baseless. And if not, perhaps some of us just had a bad experience which doesn’t necessarily translate to a broader generalization. There are many men too who make ineffective leaders at times.
We all need to be a part of women’s success stories. We need to keep our personal biases aside and work towards making this happen. We have to together reinforce their effectiveness as leaders.
Let’s raise our hands and declare our willingness to work for female bosses.