• Fri, Sep 9 2011

Americans Still Prefer A Male Boss, But More People Are Starting To Not Really Care

According to a new Gallup Poll, Americans would still prefer to work for a male (32%) rather than a female (22%) boss if they were taking a new job. However, this marks the first time the edge for a male versus a female boss is now, by two points, the smallest it has been since Gallup first began asking this question in 1953.

When Gallup first asked about preferences for a male or female boss in 1953, 66% of Americans said they preferred a man, while 5% said they preferred a woman. About 6 in 10 preferred a male boss when Gallup next asked the question in 1975, but by the 1980s preferences for a male boss had slipped below 50%.

Gallup also asked U.S. workers to say whether their current boss was a man or a woman; 56% report having a male boss, while 30% have a female boss and another 13% say they don’t have a boss. The gender of one’s current boss appears to be significantly related to preferences for the gender of one’s boss. Working Americans who currently have a male boss prefer a male boss by a 23-point margin, while the smaller number who currently have a female boss say they would prefer to have a female boss if they had a choice — by a 9-point margin.

The study also found that women are more willing to voice their opinion when it comes to boss preference. The majority of men express no preference regarding the gender of their boss, while women are both more likely than men to say they would prefer having a male and a female boss. Still, both men and women end up preferring a male boss: men by 26% to 16%, and women by 39% to 27%.

Americans younger than 50 show only slight preference for a male boss rather than a female boss (31% vs. 27%), while those 50 and older are significantly more likely to say they prefer a male (35% vs. 16%). The study found that there was an “important interaction” between age and gender in terms of boss gender preference. Women younger than 50 are virtually even in their preferences, with a slight two-point tilt toward a desire for a female boss. Women 50 and older are substantially more likely to prefer a male boss. There is little difference in the preferences of men, regardless of their age.

The results of the study imply that male bosses still dominate in the workplace today and Americans still tend to prefer a male versus a female boss. But the fact that the preference gap is the smallest it has been amongst younger Americans which means we are getting closer to no gap or even a stronger preference for women. The biggest potential for change appears to be among women, since younger women are as likely to prefer a female as a male boss if given a choice, while older women are quite strong in their preferences for a male boss.

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