Study Finds Women Are Better Bosses Than Men — Here's Why

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By Jacquelyn Smith

About 62 years ago, market research firm Gallup asked a group of adults in the US: "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?"

A whopping 66% said they preferred a male boss; 5% said they preferred a female boss; and 25% claimed it made no difference to them.

Fast-forward six decades to Gallup's latest report, "State of the American Manager," which reveals a slight shift in those numbers.In 2012, Gallup asked 11,434 adults in the US that same question. This time, only 33% said they preferred a male boss, while 20% said female, and 46% said they have no preference.

But perhaps more people should strive to work for female managers.

Why?

They tend to be better leaders than their male counterparts, finds Gallup.

The survey discovered that employees who work for a female boss are, on average, 6% more engaged than those who work for a male manager. (Female employees who work for a female manager are the the most engaged of any group of workers.)
Gallup/State of the American Manager Report

The survey also found that women leaders themselves tend to be more engaged (41%) than men (35%).

The Gallup report says womens' higher engagement levels likely result in more engaged, higher-performing teams.

Here are a few reasons women make better bosses than men:

Employees who work for a female manager are 1.26 times more likely than those who work for a male boss to strongly agree that "There is someone at work who encourages my development."

"This suggests that female managers likely surpass their male counterparts in cultivating potential in others and helping to define a bright future for their employees," the report says. "It does not mean that female managers are more likely to promote their associates, but it could signify that women are more apt than men to find stimulating tasks to challenge their employees, thus ensuring associates develop within their current roles and beyond."

Those who work for a woman are 1.29 times more likely than those who don't to strongly agree with the following: "In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress."

Female managers are more inclined to provide regular feedback to help their employees achieve their development goals - one of the three things workers said they most want from their boss.

Employees who work for a female manager are 1.17 times more likely than those with a male manager to strongly agree that "In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work."

"This suggests that female managers surpass male managers in providing positive feedback that helps employees feel valued for their everyday contributions," the report says. "It also indicates that female managers may be better than male managers at helping their employees harness the power of positive reinforcement."

Overall, female managers in the US exceed male managers at meeting employees' essential workplace requirements.

One possible explanation for this - thanks to the gender bias which still saturates leadership and management in the US - is that female managers "might be somewhat more adept and purposeful in using their natural talents to engage their teams because they need to exceed expectations to advance in their organization," the report explains.

But, no matter what the reason, Gallup concludes that organizations should place more emphasis on recruiting and promoting more female managers.
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