Who Make Better Bosses -- Men or Women?

Not surprisingly, the answers were all over the map, from brown-nosers singing their managers' praises -- and wanting me to mention their "Best Boss Ever!" by name -- to people who'd been burned by a specific male or female manager and had written off working for the entire gender for all of eternity.

There were also the usual charges -- from women and men alike -- of female bosses being hormonal, wishy-washy, manipulative, vindictive, passive-aggressive, micromanaging psychotics.

And while it didn't surprise me that a number of women and men sang the praises of the "communicative," "super-supportive" female bosses they'd had (or their "direct," "drama-free" male bosses), I wasn't expecting to hear so many men lament that their male managers were overly arrogant and territorial.

"The guys I've worked for worked hard each day to prove that they were the leader of the pack," said Eddie Brown Jr., a communications director in New Orleans. "They also spent a significant amount of time bullying others or throwing their weight around."

Craig Huffstetler, an online marketing professional in Medford, Mass., said, "Male bosses feel distant, remote and seem to have an 'alpha male' issue and be very competitive, as if we were playing basketball on separate teams. Woman bosses have more compassion and understanding."

It Doesn't Have to Be Lonely at the Top

In addition to female managers knowing how to put the T and A in "team," there's mounting evidence that the more women occupy top management roles, the better it is for the women who report to them.

A 2007 study based on data from the 2000 Census and published in the American Sociological Review found that when a company employs more high-profile female managers, the wage gap between women and men shrinks.

As study co-author Philip Cohen explains it, female managers play an active part in reducing the wage gap.

"This could be directly influencing policies and practices, hiring and firing decisions and promotions," said Cohen, associate professor of sociology and director of graduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, "or it could be indirect, through providing contacts, mentoring, role models and support."

"This undermines the myth of the Sigourney Weaver character from 'Working Girl,'" he added.

Case in point: Brenda Christensen of Thousand Oaks, Calif., who's held executive positions in two different software companies and hasn't had many women working above her. Rather than slam the door shut behind her, she's gone out of her way to help other women get a leg up on the corporate ladder.

"I received a resume from a young lady," Christensen said, "and she was shocked when I called her and told her that although I had no positions available at the time, I would be happy to refer her to some of my contacts. She told me no other woman had assisted her as much as I had."

None of this is to say that one sex is better equipped to play boss than another. As far as I'm concerned, the only thing that makes someone a good boss is knowing how to motivate and manage others (although knowing how to order your own latte is a big help, too).

"My best boss was a female. My worst boss was a female," said Sydnye White, a television producer in Upper Marlboro, Md. "I don't know that being a female had anything to do with it."

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...