Do people still prefer a male boss?

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — In the 1950s, Americans were asked, “If you were taking a new job and had your choice of a boss, would you prefer to work for a man or a woman?”

It’s a question Gallup still asks.

In 1953, two-thirds said they’d prefer a man. In 2014, one-third said they would. So, 61 years and 33 percentage points. Depending on who you ask, that’s either an improvement to be celebrated or a frustrating signal that sexism is still alive and well. Or both.

There are about 9 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., and in the past year, women have started 1,200 new businesses each day, according to the 2014 State of Women-Owned Business Report, which was commissioned by American Express. 

However, while women-owned businesses continue to grow, the businesses are relatively small, employing just 6% of the country’s workforce and contributing just under 4% of business revenues. That’s about the same share as in 1997.

It isn’t clear how employees’ preferences on their boss’ gender influence success or failure, but it is clear that there is plenty of room for improvement.

“Women are not growing and scaling as much as they should be,” said Amanda Brown, executive director of the National Women’s Business Council. “It’s no surprise that women would prefer to work for male bosses, when they stick to what they know.”

In the Gallup survey, 39% of women preferred a male boss, 25% preferred a female boss and 34% said it made no difference. Overall, 46% of men and women said it made no difference.

The fact that so many respondents said it made no difference resonated with Jayna Cooke, CEO of events company EVENTup. “That’s probably the response we want to get to,” she said.

Meanwhile, Brown admitted that when she saw the Gallup poll, she wondered if it was a joke, saying that when you continue to ask the same question for sixty years, “you’re continuing to have an outdated conversation.”

“What relevance does this have at this point?” she said, adding that the question itself highlights “that there are still women missing in the equation…women are not in the position of being bosses enough. How do we address that?”

Gallup has a different take.

“Gender issues in the workplace are very important, and we think this provides insights into these issues,” said Frank Newsport, Gallup’s editor in chief. “One reason that we keep this wording in this question is that it provides us the context of long-term trends, which are very important.”

Gallup still asks, for example, if respondents approve or disapprove of marriage between a white person and a black person. While numbers have moved in favor of it over the years, Gallup said it will continue to ask the question until everyone agrees and it is no longer relevant.

Something the pollsters no longer ask?

“What is your favorite radio program to listen to at night?”

™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.




  • Eppiphone McFranks

    Women never get the recognition they deserve!
    I’m a guy and I work for a large industrial corporation in Richmond that provides support to large manufacturers around the country. I’ve been with the company about 1 0 years. I started here the same time that my Boss started here. We were interns. My Boss is a woman.

    I’m happy she got promoted ahead of me. She worked hard and earned her promotion. In fact, she’s worked so hard that her and I are both surprised that she isn’t one of the company vice presidents by now. She confided in me that she thinks it’s because the men in the company try to hold women back. I agree with her. Misogyny is rampant in this company. I don’t think she’s gotten the recognition a woman deserves.

    Just the other day we….oh, hold on a sec…her phone is ringing and she isn’t at her desk….

    I’m back. I told the caller that my Boss would call back. I know my Boss is nearby because I can hear her voice a few cubicles away. She’s talking about her new hairdo with a few of her fellow women supervisors. I think nice hair is important for a woman’s self-esteem.

    Anyway, as I was saying, I don’t think she or any of the women are getting the recognition they deserve. Hard work means nothing if men are holding you back. I think…oh, hold on a sec, her phone is ringing again.

    …that guy…he keeps calling from St Louis asking about a shipment of items needed for the assembly line…his company makes pipes for underground fiber optic cables and he is whining that they may have to shut the line down if they don’t get their materials and he wanted to speak with my Boss IMMEDIATELY. He doesn’t understand how busy my Boss is. She was standing by her desk when the phone rang, but she was on her cell making travel plans with her daughter. I tell you, it warms my heart when I am privileged enough to witness Mother-Child bonding. They are planning their upcoming trip to Cancun. It seems the child support check came in and now they can afford to travel. I’m so happy she left her husband. That guy was WORTHLESS! He was never home. He kept deploying to Iraq with the Army and was never, ever home. How is a woman supposed to hold down a hard job, keep up the house, and raise the kids when the man NEVER helps out? She is better off without him, and how brave of her to leave him! Fortunately he was deployed when she asserted her god given rights as a woman and struck out her own. I am sure being in Iraq that long has turned him into a psycho. She should file for a restraining order.

    Anyway, I guess I’m just trying to say that I think it is so unfair that men hold women back in the workplace. My Boss, the poor dear, is very, very overweight. It’s not her fault. Her job wears her out and there’s nothing left at the end of the day to even think about eating right and exercising. I think she deserves more than just a break, she needs to be compensated for the hardships men have imposed on her and…hold on a minute….our division vice president wants to speak with me….

    Wow!…I can’t stick around much longer to write about this important topic. The vice president told that we need to put together an important presentation for delivery to a new, high paying customer tomorrow. He told me to do it because my Boss left early for the day again. She’s got “cramps”. I feel so sorry for her, women get cramps at that “time of the month”, and men don’t have to go through that! See what I mean? Men get all the breaks.

    Well, I guess I’ll work overtime tonight. I’ll call my son and let him know. I don’t mind working overtime as long as it helps out my Boss and the company. Even though it’s my visitation night, I’m sure my son will understand.
    Oops! The division vice president wants to see me again…be right back!

    …As it turns out, my Boss’s dog has severe gastro-intestinal distress and she can’t come in until 5 minutes before tomorrow’s presentation. This is the 3rd time this month her poor dog has been ill. Thank god that dog has a loving, understanding master. ..Fortunately, if I work hard and don’t screw it up, my Boss will have the chance to shine in front of our company leadership and our new customer tomorrow morning in spite of her dog’s recurring illness.! She’s the best!

    Well, gotta run! It’s going to be a long night putting together charts and slideshows for tomorrow.
    I’m sorry this has been such a long rant. I just feel so strongly that women never get the recognition they deserve.

    • Manalishi

      “That guy was WORTHLESS! He was never home. He kept deploying to Iraq with the Army” Just blew all your credibility, respectability, and usefulness as a member of society. Shame on your parasitic, selfish self serving over-dramatic and pretentious a**.

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