Leadership

When it comes to bosses, Americans actually no longer prefer a man over a woman

For the first time since 1953, Americans no longer prefer a male boss over a female boss, according to recent Gallup poll findings.

Over the last 64 years, Gallup has asked Americans, "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?"

In the most recent survey conducted at the beginning of November, 55 percent of Americans say their boss' gender make no difference to them. This percentage is up from the last survey in 2014.

"The abrupt shift since 2014 in the percentage of Americans preferring a male boss suggests that the public may be reacting to the seemingly endless stream of sexual harassment allegations against men in workplaces across many industries, from Hollywood to Capitol Hill," writes Megan Brenan, a former New York Times deputy editor and current consultant for Gallup.

When Gallup first began measuring Americans' preference about the gender of their boss in 1953, 66 percent of Americans preferred a male boss, compared to a mere 23 percent with the same preference today.

Though favor toward a male boss experienced the greatest decrease over the past six decades, favor toward a female boss has seen very little increase. This has set the percentage of Americans who prefer either a man or a woman as their boss today at about an equal percentage of 23 and 21 percent, respectively.

"While the public's acceptance of women as bosses has been at the majority level since the early 1990s, change has been slow in workplaces," Brenan writes.

Surprisingly, from 1982 to 2014, women were generally more likely than men to say they would prefer a man as their boss. This year, women's favor toward a male boss is at a historic low with more women having no overall preference on the gender of their boss.

Today, men also happen to be the most ambivalent they have ever been toward having a man or woman as a boss.

As reflected in the miniscule growth in favor toward female bosses, one major issue still remains: the lack of women in the C-suite and other upper management levels.

The reason for this problem, in part is that "we do not embrace female leadership," as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said in the first season of "Masters of Scale."

Sandberg, one of the leading voices for gender equality in the workplace, recommended that men do a better job at supporting women by making sure women get heard and get their due credit.

"The way to help is to recognize that there are all of these biases and to push against them and push against them aggressively," Sandberg said.

Though this year's Fortune 500 list included a record number of women CEOs — a whopping 32 or mere 6.4 percent — female CEOs remain extremely rare in the US.

Gallup research has also concluded that Americans find female bosses more engaging than male bosses, so what is there to lose?

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