Many workers still resist working for a female boss.
Credit: Female boss image via Shutterstock
While the number of female business leaders and entrepreneurs seems to be increasing every day, Americans are far from neutral in their feelings on their boss' gender. A recent Gallup poll found that about 60 percent of Americans still have a gender preference when it comes to their boss, and the majority of those individuals would rather work for a man.
According to the poll, 40 percent of respondents said their boss' gender makes no difference to them, but of those who do have a preference, 35 percent prefer a male boss and 23 percent prefer a female boss. Both men and women preferred a male boss, which may be a result of the respondents' current work environment: Gallup's results showed that more than a third of respondents who work for a man said they would prefer a male boss in a new job. About the same percentage of those who would prefer a female boss currently work for a woman.
Gallup's report indicated that the gender structure of the workplace could drive changes in future versions of this poll. In the 2013 poll, 54 percent of employed respondents currently have a male boss and 30 percent have a female boss. If the number of women in leadership positions continues to increase, the gender preference may shift.
"It is possible that the experience of working for a female boss affects workers' preferences," said Frank Newport and Joy Wilke, authors of the Gallup report. "If this is the case, and if the proportion of U.S. workers who have female bosses increases in the future, the current preference for a male boss in the overall population could dissipate."
The gap between gender preferences has been steadily closing since Gallup first conducted this poll in 1953. In that first survey, 66 percent of respondents preferred a male boss, while just 5 percent said they would rather work for a woman, and 25 percent said they had no preference. These statistics remained relatively unchanged for two decades, and Americans' preference for a male or female boss has continued to decrease and increase respectively since the 1970s. The percentage of those with no preference has also increased steadily over the last 40 years.
This poll was based on the responses of more than 2,000 U.S. adults.