December 11, 2013

It’s No Fun Working for a Female Boss

Angry businesswoman with megaphone shouting at colleagueThat’s a very direct (and kind of harsh) statement, wouldn’t you agree? But, these words came from two workers I know—and to my surprise, one of the individuals was a woman.

From the man’s perspective

-It’s no fun working for a female boss because my boss is:

-Overly critical


-Feels like she always has to have a presence in the office

From the woman’s perspective

It’s no fun working for a female boss because my boss is:


-Talks down to me

-Workaholic, hasn’t taken a vacation in 7 years

Both the man and woman agreed that their female leaders are less interpersonal and not as socialable as their male counterparts.

And just to give you a little background on both employees, the man works in Finance at a Fortune 500 company while the woman works for a loans refinance company. Both are college graduates; the man has an MBA while the woman has a J.D.

As I listened to both workers explain their dislike for working for females, (in my Carrie Bradshaw voice) I couldn’t help but wonder, Why is it so difficult to work for a woman?

I’m aware that most Americans prefer a male boss, but I’d never encountered workers with such reasoning as this. Talking with the two, the conclusion seemed to be simple: overcompensation. Much like the “pit-bull in a skirt” theory, it seemed that these workers’ bosses were aggressive, mean, and non-personable because they were trying to overcompensate for being women in management.

And as I continued listening to their stories, I thought, Well, what’s a gal to do?

Seriously, what are women in management positions supposed to do? On one end they have the women stereotypes—emotional, weak, motherly, soft—pulling at their workplace identities while on the other end they have the “pit bull in a skirt,” cut throat, think-like-a-man personas doing the same.

Women are already unfairly deemed as inferior to their male counterparts, especially when it comes to holding leadership positions. So they try to be aggressive with a no-nonsense type of management style to show the bigwigs that they are just as able to effectively lead a group of people just like any man. Yet, if they do this (as in the case of these two workers), they’re viewed as “no fun” and less socialable than a male boss.

The workers said male bosses will talk and laugh with you while female bosses don’t allow that camaraderie to develop between a boss and an employee. Yet, even the male worker noted that having the “pit bull in a skirt” approach will probably help a woman move up the management ranks much faster.

And doesn’t our nation desperately need more of this acceleration to take place? I mean, look at the statistics:

  • Women only hold 14.6 percent of Executive Officer positions in Fortune 500 companies, a mere .3 percentage increase from 2012.
  • At 16.9 percent, women don’t even account for one-fourth of the board seat holders for Fortune 500 companies.
  • Women don’t even hold 5 percent of Fortune 500 or 1000 CEO positions. They account for 4.2 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively, of all CEO positions.

Women are at a disadvantage when it comes to representation in senior-level positions, equal pay, and now in management styles?

Again I ask, what are women in management supposed to do? Be too compassionate and be considered a “typical woman” and perceived as an inferior leader. Be too aggressive and get deemed “no fun” and lose the boss-employee relationship.

Every day, women are continuously put in tough situations where they’re forced to choose between two extremes even though both roads seem to lead to destruction. Corporate America will continue to make it that much harder for women to advance in their careers if we’re constantly scrutinized for not being a certain way but still face inevitable doom for being a another way.

Both the male and female workers did offer one positive note for working for a woman: She understands when it comes to social issues. If they need to leave early to pick up children, their bosses are sympathetic, unlike male managers.

While this is great and dandy, it does nothing to keep women managers from constantly landing at square one. Like the two workers’ examples, if the negatives of working for a woman constantly outweigh the positives, and even if women change their approaches to be more “womanly” they’re still at a disadvantage, then unfortunately, our working gals have progressed no further than their positions at the beginning of this article.

Now that’s a very harsh (but realistic) statement, wouldn’t you agree?

Read more in Best Careers for Women

Marks’ stories have also been published in a variety of newspaper, magazine and online formats including The Arizona Republic, The Daily Herald, Arizona Foothills Magazine and various classroom magazines of Scholastic Inc. Service is her passion, writing is her platform and uplifting and inspiring the community is her purpose. Marks received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University.
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