Among those who have a preference, American workers prefer working for a male boss over a female boss by 12 percentage points, with 35 percent voicing a preference for working for a man, according to a new Gallup survey. The preference shows up among both men and women, and perhaps surprisingly, women are even more likely to have a preference at all, and when they do are more likely to choose working for a man.
The good news is that 23 percent of Americans say they’d prefer to work for a woman, the highest ever recorded since workers were first polled on the question in 1953 and up from just 5 percent. In 1953, two-thirds of Americans preferred working for a man. The number of those who have no preference is also up to 41 percent from just a quarter in the ’50s.
Reality also shows that most people work for a male boss, with over half saying they currently work for a man and just 30 percent for a woman. But those who do work for a woman are just as likely to prefer a female boss to a male one, “one of the few subgroups of the population that does not tilt in the ‘male boss’ direction,” the report notes. On the other hand, among those who work for a man, the preference for a male boss wins out 35 to 17 percent. The report notes that this difference may be in part because those who prefer to work for one gender seek those situations out, but it could also be that working for a woman changes an employee’s perceptions.
Unfortunately, there is little progress in getting women into the highest roles where they might be able to change people’s opinions. While they hold an equal number of middle management positions, they rarely make it all the way to the top. Just 22 companies among the Fortune 500 have a woman as CEO, and last year women held just over 14 percent of the executive officer positions at those companies. The number of women in those roles has stagnated for three years. Worse, there has been seven years of stagnation in the number of women on their boards.
Women face a tough slog as they try to climb up the ranks. About a third of female workers report experiencing discrimination in the workplace. Fifteen percent say they have been passed over for a promotion or another opportunity because of their gender. This isn’t a problem many men face — only 8 percent said the same. Two-thirds of female workers also think that professional women are scrutinized more harshly than their male peers, while over half think women don’t reach the highest jobs in business thanks to discrimination. For their part, just half of men agree with the former and a third with the latter opinions. At least some of the bias women face is on display when Americans still show a preference for a working for a man.