Would You Rather Work For a Woman or a Man?

by Michael Haberman on September 7, 2012 · 4 comments

Rather than answering a question or offering an opinion, I am asking your input on a question. Would you rather work for a woman or a man? And why?

Recent Study

A recent study, published at SHRM, (Women No Better Than Men at Fostering Equality) suggested that women bosses do not do any better in helping women subordinates in terms of pay and opportunities. I will let you read the study yourself rather than detailing the results. What I want to do is ask you to weigh in with your own experience.


  • Who was your better boss, the man or the woman?
  • Did that depend on your level? Their level?
  • Did the higher the boss was in the org chart make a difference?
  • Have you personally perceived a difference between the sexes in pay negotiation? Does it make a difference if you are negotiating with a woman or a man?
  • Do personal relationships with the boss make a difference? Male vs. female?
  • What about age, yours and theirs?
  • What if your boss is a former peer? Any difference?
  • Who is more concerned with your professional success?
  • What else is important in this dynamic?

Please leave a comment and give us some insight to your experience. You can be anonymous.

I know many dynamic and outspoken women in HR so I am hoping to hear from some of them. You gentlemen can weigh in too, but like many men in the article, they remained anonymous, so don’t feel bad if you stay that way too.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandrine Bardot September 9, 2012 at 3:44 am

I am female, work in HR. Although our profession is typically female-dominated in the rank-and-file, I have only ever had one female boss.

My worst manager ever was a man, the second worst (and almost as bad) was a woman – I even wrote a blog post about her and what the experience taught me as this was at the beginning of my career.

I don’t think their gender is what defined these two terrible managers. Neither of them demonstrated any interpersonal skills, and their focus was mostly a short-term, selfish one about their career. They also felt that leading through fear would get them what they wanted as it would ascertain their power over the team, but it was pretty transparent to all of us team members that this only reflected their belief in their own lack of capacity. Their credibility within the business was also very low, not just within the HR function.

Interestingly, neither of them had chosen to lead HR, but both had been appointed to the job for various internal politics reasons. I have however witnessed one non-HR person leading HR in a major corporation (one of the US top 10) with great result – this person was coming from the business side, but demonstrated plenty of interpersonal skills as well as common sense and the capacity to delegate and appreciate the input from their specialist team members before making decisions. By the way, this non-HR person was female.

Personally, I don’t care if my manager is male or female. I care if they are a “good person”, if they are willing to help me expand my knowledge, if they will learn to trust me, and if they will support me and my team when needed. I don’t think these qualities are gender-dependent.

Thanks for asking !


Michael Haberman September 9, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Thank you Sandrine for you comment. I have also had both men and women as bosses. Some good, some bad. I don’t think it is their gender or mine that made them good, I think it is their approach to people. But to some bosses the gender of their subordinates makes a difference and that is an issue.


Greg September 11, 2012 at 8:40 am

This is a great question. I’m a guy and have been in HR pretty much my entire career. I have been blessed to have several mentors in my career inside and outside the organizations I worked for. I can without qualification say that one woman and one man stand out above all others. Both were HR leaders and both had fantastic strategic and tactical skills that focused on developing their teams to help them get ahead in their careers whether at the company they worked for or other places. Their whole mission was focused on the acquisition of knowledge and skill. Those two positions were the very best ones I have had thus far and in fact helped shape my philosophy of leadership. My focus in positions I have held is to be a partner to the business and to develop that same approach in the folks who work with me whether through education, experiental learning or other knowledge attainment.



Michael Haberman September 11, 2012 at 9:27 am

Greg thank you for your comment. It sounds like your positive experiences were not related to gender but to ability. That is good to hear.


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