Quick: Describe your ideal boss.
Characteristics such as “strong leadership” or “motivational” may come to mind. But is that super boss in your head a man or a woman?
You may think that gender shouldn’t matter anymore, but according to a new Gallup survey, over half of Americans have a personal preference. The poll, which surveyed both men and women, found that 35% of respondents admit that they want to work for a male manager—while only 23% said they’d opt for a female. (41% say they don’t care either way.)
Sylvia Ann Hewlett, who studies workplace issues at the Center for Talent Innovation, told the Wall Street Journal that her research suggests the reason people want a male boss is because they think men with seniority have more power than their female counterparts. Men hold a majority of C.E.O. seats, and workers may see this as a sign that a female manager just won’t have the same kind of influence.
Although the preference for a male boss has dropped in the past half-century—when the poll was first conducted in 1953, 66% of Americans said they’d prefer a male boss, versus 5% who preferred female bosses—the survey found that, surprisingly, younger Americans today are not much more likely than respondents of other age groups to prefer a female boss. As Gallup notes, this would suggest that the current preference for male managers won’t change as a result of older generations retiring from the workforce.
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Even so, you shouldn’t let gender affect your relationship with your manager—or your ability to move up the ladder. Make sure you’re asking your boss these key questions, and read up on what real bosses say will help you land a promotion.