Man vs. Woman: Who Would You Rather Have for a Boss?

Man vs. Woman: Who Would You Rather Have for a Boss?

Quick: Who would you choose to be your manager? Miranda Priestly, the icy magazine editor in "The Devil Wears Prada," or Ari Gold, the money-mad Hollywood agent in "Entourage"?

Right now you’re probably weighing the scenarios: In one, you're running across town to fetch filet mignon for Miranda; in the other, you're suffering a series of off-color remarks from Ari.

But maybe this is the underlying question you're actually contemplating, without even realizing it: Is it better to work for a man or a woman?

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If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably torn. According to a new survey by Gallup, nearly half (46%) of Americans say they have no preference regarding their manager’s gender. But the second most popular choice was a male manager, with 33% saying they'd want a man for a boss, and only 20% saying they'd prefer a woman.

When you look at the short-term stats, that doesn't seem to reflect much in the way of changing attitudes: The number of Americans who prefer to work for a man is down slightly from 35% last year—but the number of people who prefer to work for a woman is also down, from 23%. Still, those who have a female boss now are more likely to say they would prefer a female boss later if they got a new job.

The "progress, not progress" behind women in the workforce is reflected in other ways, too: Fortune magazine revealed that a record number of women made its Fortune 500 C.E.O. ranks this year—although that percentage was still a paltry 4.8% of all C.E.O.s.

Despite the fact that women still lag in the executive ranks, there is a growing body of research that suggests women are, in many cases, more effective managers than men—possibly because of their heightened focus on developing relationships with colleagues.

Of course, the best-case scenario would be for everyone to evaluate managers on an individual basis, and we may be slowly creeping toward that, as the Pew numbers suggest. But until then, take some tips from these women who learned how to get ahead in a "man's" field of work.

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