With the workplace more egalitarian than ever, do you know which gender is most suited to you?
According to a research project on good management skills conducted by Google last year, managers have a greater impact on employees' performance and how they felt about their job than any other factor. So when it comes to picking who you work for, knowing whether a male or female boss is better suited to you is important.
Facts and figures
In a survey carried out over in England by online recruitment firm www.UKJobs.net, it was revealed that both women and men are in total agreement that men make better bosses 63% of women and 75% of the 3,000 men interviewed agreed.
Furthermore, 15% of those interviewed said that having a female boss increased the likelihood of an ear bashing if they did something wrong.
So if that's the case why do nearly two-thirds of men prefer male bosses? And, is it any different here in New Zealand or anywhere else in the world?
"One of the things that my research has shown, is that men have a more masculine notion of what a leader is like, and should be like. That is, loaded with more 'go-getter', assertive, competitive qualities and they place less emphasis, or they don't expect more social skilled niceness," explains Alice Eagly, professor of psychology and of management and organization at Northwestern University.
According to the UKjobs study, men preferred male bosses, because, traditionally, they didn't bring their private lives into work with them. They also prized a man in the top seat for being more consistent in his behaviour towards office employees. According to the Google study, Project Oxygen, consistency ranked highly when it came to having a positive effect on people's attitudes towards work.
"In my research, good managers have been seen over three decades as exhibiting more masculine traits associated with men, such as autonomy and independence, than feminine traits associated with women, such as warmth and sensitivity to the needs of others," explains Gary N Powell, a professor of management in the School of Business of the University of Connecticut.
The male assets, according to the survey are focused around their straight-talking and being "less likely to bitch about others", "able to leave their private life at home," and "less likely to feel threatened if others are good at their jobs." In essence, men prefer male bosses with the same ideals on what makes a good boss as them.
However, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests management styles are shifting away from traditional, paternalistic ones, towards a style more suited to female managers.
"The cultural notion of what leadership is is shifting in an androgynous direction, to incorporate more social skill, and more participative qualities," says Eagly.
A study released in 2008 by sociologists at the University of Toronto, found that when focusing on the physical and mental distress among 1,000 American employees working in a variety of jobs, they found that men worked best with gender-mixed managers: one male, one female.
The combination of traits traditionally attributed to males: determination, consistency and detachment from politics, and those people would normally put down as female ones: empathy, multi-tasking, good listening and interpersonal skills, are becoming equally important.
Command and control
Women, according to Susan Pinker, a psychologist and the author of The Sexual Paradox, women are better at at "mind-reading" than most men; they can read the emotions written on people's faces more quickly and easily.
Women are also statistically more likely to fight harder for their teams when it comes to negotiating their salaries than men, according to Sharon Meers, co-author of Getting to 50/50.
But there are bad traits as well as positive ones. According to surveys, male bosses tend to be less understanding when it comes personal errands during work hours. Some of the biggest complaints in relation to female bosses, meanwhile, according to the UKJobs.net survey, are that they are more prone to mood swings and attaching too much emotion to difficult business decisions. So how do you get around it?
According to Eagly, if a male boss is more "command and control", then you just have to go along with it. But a woman boss, on average, would be more collaborative and participative, and therefore would expect you to contribute more.
So if you're faced with a difficult female boss, communication is the key to a better relationship. Whereas with men, keeping the wheels greased in your relationship may involve eating a bit of humble pie.
Who do you prefer? Men or women in the top seat?
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