Recently I run into a friend who was looking for an opportunity to be promoted in her company. She has been working in the company for many years and holds a great degree in her field. While failed to convince her male manager that she is ready for the next level of career, she looked for other opportunities in the company. In the conversation, she mad an interesting comment about the managers she prefer to work with. Despite that her current male manager refused to promote her, she still prefers to have a male manager over female manager. Perplexed by this statement, I tried to understand the reasons behind and asked around other women if they have the same preference, surprisingly, while all women I asked are looking to be managers one day themselves, many of them prefer to work for male leaders.
Gallup data poll survey shows that more respondents preferred men leadership than women because men leaders are perceived as more supportive. The other reasons I heard from women respondents are women leaders tend to support less to women, chemistry is better between men boss and women employees, women leaders are less confident and more competitive to other women etc.
While some individual experiences might play significant role in this personal preference, I can’t help but to think, what can we do to change this perception?
In my own experience, I had many bosses in my life and my current boss is a woman. I find supportive and less supportive managers in both genders. There are a few things I believe that can help us in this category:
Evaluate the facts before letting perception makes judgement. Women and men might approach subject matter differently. An interesting finding is that when women are equally assertive as men, they are viewed more in “un-likeable” category. Support your female boss and learn from them to make yourself a better boss with integrity.
Speak out on how you want to be supported. Women leaders for most part also want to build a strong career path to her employees. Be specific and genuinely talk to her about the career development and explore the opportunities will help to build trust on both sides.
Chemistry between female and male is different, but the similar in professional world. If you are looking for the benefit that a male boss gives you because you are a woman, you are not in your professional mindset. In a professional world, performance has much more explicit indicators and less emotions involved. The goal of the boss is to work with all employees to drive business results and motivate employees. Looking for a short cut because of gender won’t drive strong business performance.
When you have an unbiased perception to start your work day with your female boss, you will notice the subtle change in your evaluation of her way of managing you and team. Let us women support each other and create a gender neutral world in leadership.