Accessibility links

Women Bosses Still Face Battle for Acceptance


A movie about 'the man of steel' and another one about a high-fashion boss lifted Hollywood to its second highest box office results for a July 4 weekend. "Superman Returns" showed why Superman’s still the greatest superhero of all time, raking in more than $52 million in U.S. theaters.

The big surprise at the U.S. box office last weekend was "The Devil Wears Prada," a film about a tyrannical fashion editor, which grossed more than $27 million in its opening weekend. As VOA's Mil Arcega reports, the comedy about a very mean boss -- who just happens to be a woman -- pokes fun at a very serious question. Are women bosses meaner than men bosses?

Women are quickly gaining equal footing with men in the workplace. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says 50 percent of managers and 23 percent of the nation's CEO's are women. A provocative new survey shows a majority of American women still prefer a mean male boss. In fact, a new survey on workplace attitudes by Lifetime Television, a cable TV network for women, found that three of every four American women who were questioned prefer taking orders from a man.

Tory Johnson, the founder and C.E.O. of the recruitment firm Women For Hire, says she's not surprised. "Oftentimes, women are harder on women because we expect something,” she said. “We go in with the expectation that she's one of me; she's going to be my friend. We're going to be girlfriends and in fact, it's not true."

Gender stereotypes about forceful leaders can also hamper a woman's rise to the top. Gerry Laybourne manages a staff of 250 people. "We are raised to be good girls. We're raised to not ruffle feathers,” she said. “But the truth is, we don't build businesses by being accommodating. Sometimes I think when we are direct, we are perceived as, you know, the b-word. That's not right."

The advocacy group National Organization for Women says women still earn on average about 76 percent of men earn.

Kallee Medhurst, a manager at a Washington D.C. hi-tech firm, says pay equity is improving. Medhurst says mean bosses can come in all shapes and sizes. ”I think that anyone can be hard to work with, so I don't see the gender roles having as much impact as you usually have with stereotypes. I mean I've worked with difficult male bosses and difficult female bosses," she said.

For those who may not want to work with a female boss after watching "The Devil Wears Prada," Meryl Streep says her role model for the character was a man.

XS
SM
MD
LG