Do Women Make For A Better Boss?

That was the question posed in the NYTimes’ “Room For Debate” blog over the weekend. A week earlier, the argument was made by Carol Smith, the senior vice president and chief brand officer for the Elle Group had expressed the same sentiment in the business section, prompting a heavy debate. So much so that the editors rounded up some industry leaders and commentators to share their views on the issue. Among the main themes of their arguments were:

“Many women who make it to senior management feel a need to prove their own superiority.”

“Women are natural relationship builders, but in general they take fewer risks than men.”

“While women may be more empathetic than men, individual female managers who have climbed the ladder may not be.”

“Good managers have been seen over three decades as exhibiting more masculine traits than feminine traits.”

I have had a variety of bosses, including one coke-addicted creative director, and while I don’t have a preference on the sex, I do think that when a group leader bases their decisions purely on emotion and uses manipulation to propel themselves, it leaves a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. Sadly for me, my worst examples of these types have been women, and effeminate gay men. Still, this doesn’t stop me from working with them, but I will admit that working mostly with men has affected my attitude about how I run my own affairs. To me, my male leaders were more willing to take chances while my female leaders wanted to “plan things out.” Any good workforce should be a blend of both, but I will admit — no straight male boss has ever made me want to cry when I get home and pull out the ice cream….or inspire thoughts of murder.

With all of the above said, I still think that the question of which sex manages better is too simple, and that it really depends on the industry as well. But even though I have had my sames-sex battles at work, I still love to see women work their way to the top.

What’s your take?

Last 5 posts by Shannon Washington