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? That’s a question that pollsters have asked Americans over six decades. In the past, Americans overwhelmingly preferred male bosses, but now nearly half (46 percent) say they have no preference. Interestingly, a larger percentage of men–58 percent–are indifferent to the gender of the boss.
Despite the Melissa Mayers, Sheryl Sandbergs, Oprahs, Ellens, and even the #BanBossy campaigns, however, there is still a slight overall preference for the male boss.
According to Gallup, Americans are still more likely to say they would prefer a male boss (33%) to a female boss (20%) in a new job. While women are more likely than men to say they would prefer a female boss, they are still more likely to say they would prefer a male boss overall. Still, there has been a sharp rise since the late 1980s of those who have no preference at all.
In an age when women are told to "lean in" to get positions of power at work, even women are more likely to prefer a male boss to a female boss. However, women have historically been more likely than men to prefer a female boss, although support for preferring a female boss has grown among both groups over time.
…younger Americans are slightly more likely than older Americans to prefer a female boss; however, preference for a male boss is consistent between the two groups. Republicans are more likely to prefer a male boss (42%) to a female boss (16%), while Democrats break even between the two — 29% prefer male, while 25% prefer female.
In June, Fortune reported that the number of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies had reached a historic high, yet only 4.8% of this elite group are women… More Americans continue to prefer a male boss to a female boss — although, since 2002, the greatest percentage continue to say it does not make a difference to them. While the percentage who prefer a female boss has grown over the last 60 years, it has never passed 25%.
Gallup also finds that those who currently have a female boss are more likely than those who have a male boss to prefer a female boss in the future. Coupled with findings that younger Americans are slightly more likely to prefer a female boss, it may mean that as more women enter management, preference for female bosses could continue to climb.
What this Gallup survey indicates is that female bosses are now accepted and that this acceptance is likely to increase.
It is ironic that in this age of increasing acceptance of the female boss the female who wants to be the boss of bosses is basing her campaign largely on the notion that a female boss is something new and exciting.