Human Resources News & Insights

Do women make better bosses than men?

The New York Times recently published an interview with a female senior VP who emphatically stated that women make better bosses. And she gave her reasons.

Here are two of the main reasons given by Carol Smith, senior VP of the Elle Group:

  • Women are less “bossy.” That is, men tend to take more satisfaction in ordering others around. Women aren’t so driven to do so.
  • Women talk less about nonwork-related matters. Men tend to “shoot the breeze” more about topics such as sports and politics, while women get down to business quickly.

There’s more. To read the full New York Times interview with Carol Smith, go here. And to register your opinion, please go the HR Morning home page and respond to our poll on the subject (scroll down the left side of the page).

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  • Maryjayne

    I have to totally disagree that women are less bossy than men. For most of my life I’ve worked for men and find that they make much better managers than women. I’ve found that if you have a problem with your boss and your boss is male, you can go to him, discuss whatever the problem is, and the best part of it is he will try to change his act, and won’t hold it against you. Women, on the other hand, I find to be very vindictive, if you even have a chance to talk to them at all, and once they are given power, it goes right to their heads.

  • Gene Hill

    With due respect, I think Ms. Smith’s views are hogwash!

  • http://therealofficelife.blogspot.com/2009/07/is-it-better-to-work-for-man-or-woman.html Tara Elocin

    I have worked for bossy men and for bossy women. And I worked for great managers of either gender. I really think it’s time that we stop considering the gender when thinking about who is the better boss. The gender has very little to do with it after all and talent, ability, knowledge and committment should clearly outweigh this question.

  • SJS

    I think a good boss (male or female) should know how to get things done without becoming bossy. and I agree that woman are better at that. I think women generally know how to read people better and know how to relate in order to get results. As far as who talks more about non-work related matters, I don’t think either sex has the upper hand there either. But overall, yes, I agree women make better bosses. They are generally more empathetic. Not everything is black and white and I think woman are better at seeing and understanding “gray.”

  • Lisa

    I have to agree with Tara. Both men and women bring good qualities to their roles as boss. However, being a good boss depends upon the experience, training, and character of the person. I’ve worked with both male and female bosses and currently work for a female boss. I have found that the experience and character (and values) of the boss is the determining factor in how I feel about working for them. My current boss (female) has the character to do her job well, unfortunately her boss (male) does not and that makes it difficult for her. But it does not change how she handles her role as boss to her staff members.

  • Recruiter

    I have both male and female bosses – and, for me, the men win out on this one. HOWEVER, I think it just depends on the boss and the employee. I find that I relate better to men (and I am a woman). I find, in my more than 20+ years in the workplace, that women tend to be petty and catty.

  • John

    Wonder what the reaction would be if the story was about a male executive with the title: Do men make better bosses than women? I’ve worked for both men and women over the years and would say the male supervisors were more approachable and yet rigid in the response. The women were more all over the place in their reply but offered flexibility.

  • RandiG

    I have to agree with Tara — gender is not the determining factor. Personality is much more important, along with all the qualities Tara mentioned, and that is not determined by gender. In counterpoint to Ms. Smith’s views, we had a female executive who was possibly the bossiest, most obnoxious person we’ve ever employed. Sweeping generalities such as this are almost always way off base.

  • Joyce

    I have had both male and female bosses, and it has been my experience that the female employees are much harder on female bosses than they are on male bosses. As women I think we tend to expect more from our gender, and are more critical when that woman doesn’t meet our expectations.
    One thing I will say, women have a much more difficult time becoming bosses, and may therefore try a little harder to do a better job, and in the process that may look like they are being petty when in fact they are simply much more attuned to detail, more aware of how hard it was to get where they are and much more focused on doing the best possible job no matter what.

  • SJS

    I agree with Joyce that women do have to work harder at “proving” themselves because they are looked at more critically …

  • Angie

    I have worked for both male and female bosses. I find that male bosses are easier to work for. Women are so catty, judgmental, competitive, and hold cliques. I find male bosses to be more understanding and open.

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