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Male vs female boss

I recently asked a simple question to readers of my blog - do you prefer a male or female boss? With all the stories about female on female bullying and the lack of women in leadership positions, I thought this was a very relevant question. The result? Almost half (44%) said they preferred a male boss. So does that mean the majority preferred a female boss? No. 38% said they had no preference and just 19% favoured women.

Given all the recent stories about the lack of female leadership and women bullying other women, we thought this would be a good subject to ask people about - and we definitely got some interesting responses. It just comes down to personal experience - it's a shame that there have been some negative ones but maybe we need to look at why that is, and what we can do to improve it. IT is such a male dominated environment that many women who have reached management positions have had to fight hard to get there and maybe that fighting mentality is having a negative effect on their ability to lead. What we need is more support and training for women so more of them are able to reach the top and are well prepared for when they get there.


Comments: (6)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 28 January, 2010, 09:31Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

This is really interesting Maggie - do you know of the 44% who preferred a male boss how that split between men and women?

Elizabeth Lumley
Elizabeth Lumley - Girl, Disrupted - Crayford 28 January, 2010, 10:28Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

You do know that men outnumber women in management positions? So if you have eight male bosses (one of them being awful) and two female bosses (again, one of them being awful) guess which gender sticks out in your mind?

(this is an example from my own life by the way).

Talk about family friendly work environments, talk about getting more women in management positions, talk about getting more girls interested in 'male' industries - engineering, science, maths - by all means.

But can we dispense with the 'Daily Mail' style article "Have you ever had a bitch for a boss?" It doesn't help and it isn't constructive and really does nothing to advance the cause of women in any sphere of life.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 29 January, 2010, 15:51Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

We don't know how many of the poll respondents were male or female but we received comments and anecdotes from both! The question we asked was a bit controversial but it was never intended to criticise or offend. We thought the results would be interesting, and they certainly were, with both men and women responding. We wanted to address the issues that are going on in the workplace and discuss how businesses can overcome them - if people genuinely think that men make better bosses then we need to change that mentality.

Elizabeth Lumley
Elizabeth Lumley - Girl, Disrupted - Crayford 29 January, 2010, 16:04Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

It doesn't matter who answered the question, my beef was with the question itself.

Men outnumber women in management positions. When you ask "who's better a man or a women?" you are not comparing apples to apples. Percentage wise you are more likely to poll people who have never had a female boss at all.

These types of 'polls' only serve one purpose - to start a discussion about all the disasterous female bosses everyone has had. That debate is not only unfair, but, fundamentally, does nothing to further the advance of women in professional roles. 

I know you and Women in Technology are passionate about promoting women throughout IT and financial services. Just let's depense with the tabloid-friendly findings - because behind every "I once worked for a real bitch" story is a 40 year old women, with two children, working 60/70 hours a week in an IT department in a bank who, frankly has better things to worry about.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 29 January, 2010, 16:41Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I wanted to mention the demographic of the respondents in response to Catherine's question. The poll wasn't intended to encourage bitching - it could equally have started a discussion about how people find men's leadership style too insensitive and find women easier to deal with. But yes I agree that men outnumbering women means that the comparison is sometimes not the same! Thanks for your thoughts, is always good to hear what people think.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 02 March, 2010, 13:22Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I am currently doing research on workplace bullying.  I will be able to post preliminary results.  Please feel free to participate.


Workplace bullying is a very serious issue in the UK with estimated financial costs of £33 billion per annum, apart from the impact on a victim’s health and wellbeing and their immediate families. In order to improve our understandings of the phenomenon and to support the development of improve management practices in this arena ongoing research is required.


This Workplace Bullying survey is being conducted as part of Doctoral Research at Nottingham Trent University.  It aims to explore the extent of workplace bullying in the UK financial services industry and the response of UK employers in managing this phenomenon.


The survey is completely anonymous and no individual response will be identified and responses will only be analysed in aggregate terms.


Please click link below to participate in the survey


It will be appreciated if you forward this e-mail, with the link to the survey, to colleagues and others you may know working in other UK financial institutions and encourage them to participate.


The survey will close on the 8th March 2010, however your early response will be appreciated.


If you have any questions about this study please feel free to contact


Thank you for your help and completing the survey.


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