When it Comes to Choosing a Boss, Americans Still Prefer Men

by Wendy W. Simmons

Even women prefer a male boss by two-to-one margin

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- According to a Gallup poll conducted Dec. 2-4, 2000, 48% of Americans say they would prefer to work for man rather than a woman, while 22% would choose a female boss and 28% do not care one way or the other. The public has preferred male bosses for more than 50 years, although the margin in favor of men over women is lower now than it was a few decades ago. In 1953 -- the first time Gallup asked this question -- 66% of Americans said they would prefer to work for a man, while only 5% preferred working for a woman. In 1975, almost a quarter of a century later, opinion had not changed much, as Americans still preferred a male to a female boss by a 62% to 7% margin. But by 1982, preference for a male boss had declined while preference for a female boss began a slow climb. Today, although there is still a minority of Americans who say they would prefer to work for a woman, the percentage is more than four times higher than it was in 1953, when just 5% of Americans voiced a preference for a female boss.

Women Slightly More Likely Than Men to Prefer a Male Boss
According to the current poll, half of all adult women in the United States say they would prefer to work for a man, compared to 45% of men. About a quarter of women -- 26% -- say they would rather work for a woman, compared to 19% of men. Men are more likely than women to say they the gender of their boss does not matter -- 35% compared to 22%.

These findings show somewhat of a change in the pattern recorded over the past 20 years. In 1982, 1993, 1995 and 1999, men were more likely to say that the gender of their boss did not matter to them than they were to say they would prefer to have a male boss. According to the most recent survey, however, a plurality of men now say they would prefer to work for a man, and just a third of men (35%) say they do not have a preference. This represents the strongest male bias since 1975, when 63% of men said they would prefer to work for a man. On the other hand, although just 19% of men say they would rather have a female boss, this is the largest percentage of men that have ever voiced that preference.

Younger Women Much More Likely Than Their Elders to Prefer Working for Women
Although more women say they prefer a male to a female boss, this is not true among young women, who show a slight preference for a female boss. Overall, 39% of women aged 18-29 say they would choose to work for a woman, while just 35% prefer working for a man. By comparison, women 30 and older prefer a male to a female boss by a 53% to 23% margin.

Young men, on the other hand, do not differ much from older men on this question. Forty-four percent of men aged 18-29 say they would choose a male boss, compared with 45% of men aged 30 and older.

Citizens Around the World Would Rather Work for Men
The public's bias in favor of male bosses is not uniquely American. International Gallup Poll data show that the preference for male bosses is strong across many different countries. In 1995, Gallup asked this question in 22 different countries and found that people all over the globe had a bias for male bosses. In six countries -- Canada, China, Iceland, Panama, Spain and Britain -- a plurality of the public said the sex of their boss did not matter to them, but of those who did have a preference, more said they would prefer to work for a man if given the choice. In 14 countries, including the United States, at least a plurality, if not a majority, of people said they would choose to work for a man. In no country did a plurality of people say they would rather work for a woman.

Survey Methods

The results below are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,026 adults, 18 years and older, conducted Dec. 2-4, 2000. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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?

 

 

Prefer
man
boss

Prefer
woman
boss

NO
DIFFERENCE
(vol.)

No
opinion

         
 

%

%

%

%

National Adults

       

2000 Dec 2-4

48

22

28

2

         

1999 Aug 24-26

38

16

45

1

1995 Sep 14-17

46

20

33

1

1993 Aug 23-25

39

22

36

3

1994 Jun 25-28

35

16

47

2

1989 Dec 18-21

48

14

34

4

1982 Jun 25-28

46

12

38

4

1975

62

7

29

2

1953

66

5

25

4

         

Men

       

2000 Dec 2-4

45

19

35

1

         

1999 Aug 24-26

35

12

52

1

1995 Sep 14-17

37

17

44

2

1993 Aug 23-25

33

16

49

2

1982 Jun 25-28

40

9

46

5

1975

63

4

32

1

1953

75

2

21

2

         

Women

       

2000 Dec 2-4

50

26

22

2

         

1999 Aug 24-26

42

22

35

1

1995 Sep 14-17

54

22

24

*

1993 Aug 23-25

44

29

24

3

1982 Jun 25-28

52

15

30

3

1975

60

10

27

3

1953

57

8

29

6

         

(vol.) = volunteered response

       

*Less than 0.5%

       


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