Male vs. Female boss – 9 reasons why men and women prefer male bosses

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Male vs female boss


“It’s hard to work with a female boss”, “She’s too bossy” “Oh, she is incapable of handling this”,“Because it’s a female boss”, “It’s complicated”,  Ever heard it or said it? Well, the possibility is as much as 56% (even today). Yes, you are one among the majority of people who believe a male boss manages better than a female boss.

You will be surprised to know about the reasons why men and women consider male boss efficient in managing.

Let’s look at the infographic below, to understand how employees/peers and bosses perceive and respond to a female boss.

Furthermore,in this article, know what women can do to tackle such situations.

No more office phobia! Join us to know how!

male vs female boss


Years of wrangle and strife, we’ve come this far, from gender inequality to gender-parity at work. However, subtly or in other unseen forms, the bias exists. And women often feel pulled back from pursuing what they want.

Here is the harsh truth! Biases, stereotypical thinking will exist as long as humans do too. The end of one misconception or stereotypical thinking marks the beginning of a new era of stereotypes. So, there is no END to it. We can only work to alter it, fight against it for justice and equality (Yet, the definition of these change, time-to-time).

Despite the modern thinking and organizational policies to strengthen female leadership advancement, people still respond indifferently to gender hierarchy all due to their stereotypical mentality or due to their experience with previous female bosses. They perceive women to be cardinally ineligible, even though she is their boss, who worked as hard as her male counterparts did, probably even more.

We need to remember that,

Perceptions are not facts and stereotypes are only perceptions.

9 Reasons why female leadership is believed/ stereotyped as ineffective:

The same reasons why men and women prefer male bosses,stats here.

This is not an argument about whether or not those beliefs are true, but an understanding of the reasons.


male vs female boss

1.The queen bee myth:

“Queen bee” is a syndrome which states a woman in a position of authority who views or treats subordinates more critically if they are female.

Therefore, they tend to feel that a female boss is less supportive to other women. This ‘queen bee pre-assumption’ is responsible to make subordinates or other female employees think that their female boss would be an ineffective leader.Male vs Female boss

2. Sisterhood:

On contrary to
the Queen-bee myth, in some cases people assume that female leaders, mentor and support other female subordinates more compared to male subordinates. This ideology makes people think that women cannot use their authority fairly, as their motive is driven by sisterhood.

Male vs Female boss

3. Emotional surge:

People use this as an excuse or to justify their belittling of a woman’s management style and leadership. Employees too, show less enthusiasm when led by female leader, thinking that women’s leadership is more emotion-centric and not performance-centric.

Male vs Female boss


They are perceived to be emotional and carried away and are also unfit to make solid decisions.

4. Threat to masculinity:

Women taking up more management positions is perceived as threat to male gender, whether they openly acknowledge it or not. Therefore, male subordinates try to be more assertive, insubordinate, and challenge his female boss’s strengths.Ref

Male vs Female boss

5. Transiting phase of managers:

This kind of behavioral backlash is prevalent when employees transit from male leadership to female leadership. Their resistance to change is also the reason for people to feel threatened by female leadership. Hence, they associate all the hitch-glitch in the process to the boss being a female.

Male vs Female boss

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6. Multi-tasking:

Women are well-known and remembered for their multi-tasking. This is more about the anatomical difference between female and male brains.

Multi-tasking is considered as positive trait* and women naturally excel in it. However, not recognizing her primary talent, her role as a leader, and merely known for her network, cheerful presence is utterly ungracious and disrespectful.

*– Recent studies suggest that multitasking disrupts productivity.

Male vs Female boss

7. Family Responsibilities:

Women are thought or expected to be the primary caretakers of their family. This impacts their focus on work. They forego their ambitions, aspirations to maintain the weave. They prioritize family over career. Assuming higher management role means increased responsibilities and this adds to their existing load. Therefore, people at work think that women are ineffective in leadership roles.

8. Communal individuals:

Since ages, people in management or leadership roles were expected to be more “agentic”. Women in general are communal individuals, nice friendly and caring unlike men who are perceived and accepted as being more agentic. This perception impacts the way we look at women and their leadership. The definition of modern leadership has changed a lot, with increasing popularity for being communal. Read more

9. Traditional thinking- Subordinate’s perception:

Subordinates mainly derive their perceptions based on the traditional gender biases, that, female bosses are ineffective leaders. Few even take advantage, some challenge, some disobey, some take her assertion as aggression, some misunderstand her gestures. Such incidental behavior establishes the fact that unless a female becomes a male-boss, her work is unnoticed.


What women can do?

  • Women need to balance the perceptions and reality.
  • Do self-introspect, and ensure you are not one of the reasons stated above.
  • Women, instead of feeling victimized, must focus efforts to ascend their leadership purpose.
  • Cease thinking about what biases exist at workplace.
  • Get past the barriers, emotional, psychological, physical. Focus on what you CAN do instead of what you cannot!
  • Maintain work-life balance. Identify the challenges you face, work with your boss, to ensure that your work is not impacted by any of your other responsibilities.
  • Be positive. Things have changed a lot and will continue to change, if our work speaks more than we do.

Men and women are different, however at work,

There is no reason why women need to give-into this thinking. I feel women should focus only and exactly on the dream they wish to pursue and chase it until achieved. NO matter what your pace is!

Contrary to the above:

In certain professions, male workers too, face (or have faced) the same defiance due to their gender not being female. For ex: Teachers, Obstetricians, nurses, psychiatric, secretaries and administrative assistants.

male vs female boss

In conclusion:

Positively, things have changed a lot in the last two-three decades. However, in terms of leadership and management, the clichéd thinking is still prevalent.

Organizations: Evidently the ratio of female-male population in management roles is also comparatively less. Of the total global workforce women make up 40% , holding only 24% of senior management roles Ref. Need for organizations to pursue different paths on creating safe spaces for leadership identity development1. Not just establishing policies at higher level, but also have them working downward in the hierarchy through initiatives and trainings to change the second-generation gender bias.


 Furthermore, several familiar professions like, technology, aviation, cardiologists, public administration, safety, etc. have dearth of female participation. This is also a hint for new opportunities in these areas, if you are not the one to admire the “commons”.

Finally, we all need to understand that irrespective of one’s gender, “assumption-based” behavior will affect a person’s confidence, approach and style of leadership permanently. Good and bad bosses could be anyone. It is not specific to a gender.

Hence, shift your focus from, ‘gender’ to ‘actual work’.  See the impact it will have on your performance too!

You do not have to challenge or question your boss’s abilities specially because she is a “female boss”.

Just LET HER BE, LET HER DO! That’s the best way to show your support.

Rajeshwari Ogirala

Rajeshwari is a writer, Biz Development Manager. Passionate about people and personal development. Believes in sharing her knowledge and instilling positive work culture in people.

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2 Responses

  1. Prathima says:

    Superb and very well written raji