New research by career portal womenintechnology suggests most IT workers prefer a man to be their boss. Usually I despise poll stories because the numbers tend to fit the prejudices of the "sponsor" but this is an exception. And the numbers here are striking: 44 per cent said they liked a man at the top and only 19 per cent expressed a preference for a woman leader.
"Given all the recent stories about the lack of female leadership and women bullying other women, we thought this would be a good subject to ask people about -- and we definitely got some interesting responses," said Maggie Berry, director of womenintechnology.co.uk, quoted in the press release.
"It just comes down to personal experience -- it's a shame that there have been some negative ones but maybe we need to look at why that is, and what we can do to improve it. IT is such a male-dominated environment that many women who have reached management positions have had to fight hard to get there and maybe that fighting mentality is having a negative effect on their ability to lead. What we need is more support and training for women so more of them are able to reach the top and are well prepared for when they get there."
Very interesting indeed -- and very hard to prove or disprove.
Talking about gender and the workplace is a difficult one for all of us so I've spent 20 years ducking the subject, but here goes.
I've had women bosses and male bosses and I don't think it made any difference to the way either of us worked. The only things I do find annoying are some of the assumptions about the way women and men think and work. I've heard several times (from women and once or twice, I think, from men) that women are better at multitasking than men, or are better listeners.
This opinion -- typically arriving in the guise of incontrovertible truth -- begs a ton of questions. Why? Where's the evidence? And when did it become OK to make sweeping generalisations about gender when it would be considered crass when applied to, say, race?