Gallup reports, “Americans Still Prefer a Male Boss.” But the glaring stall story in the trend hasn’t made the news. Here is the trend:
It looks to me like the percentage preferring a male boss hit 35% in 1994, and that’s where it stands now (they ask this hypothetical question of people whether they are employed or not). I don’t find the stall in any of the reporting.
Katy Waldman in Slate said the numbers “represent progress from 1953,” but didn’t mention the stall. Derek Thompson on the Atlantic site said, “In the last 60 years, the male/female boss gap has narrowed from 61 points to just
8 12 points” (he corrected it when I pointed out the arithmetic error). He didn’t mention that the gap was down to about 15 points already by the early 1990s — two decades ago.
Another Atlantic story (which corrected the starting date of the trend after I pointed out the error — hitting my limit of two free corrections per corporate site per day) was titled, “When It Comes to Female Bosses, Women Can Be Their Own Worst Enemy,” and also made no mention of the stalled trend. Other writeups also mentioned the female-boss preference was “up significantly from 1953.”
I wish there were an understanding of the gender stall among the web-based-journalism class. Gallup reasonably wrote in their release:
It is also possible that the experience of working for a female boss affects workers’ preferences. If the latter is the case, and if the proportion of U.S. workers who have female bosses increases in the future, the current preference for a male boss in the overall population could dissipate.
Thompson seized on that conclusion, but missed the equivocation:
The upshot, which Gallup emphasizes, is that most Americans work for guys today, and as more women become bosses, more Americans will probably feel comfortable with women as their boss—or, just as likely, decide it doesn’t really make a difference in the first place.
And the other Atlantic piece mention it, either, concluding, “so there’s hope yet.” (In fairness to the Atlantic writers, where are they going to get this information? Their own site hasn’t published one of my posts mentioning the stall in gender progress since April — ok, twice in April — and before that you’d have to go back to February, February, or December. And that’s, like, a billion Tweets ago.)
But anyway, how about that increase in female managers, who are likely to change these widespread social attitudes against female managers? Don’t hold your breath:
- Read David Cotter, Joan Hermsen, and Reeve Vanneman’s article, “The End of the Gender Revolution? Gender Role Attitudes from 1977 to 2008” in the American Journal of Sociology.
- Read “The Gender Revolution: Uneven and Stalled,” by Paula England in Gender & Society.
- Read the paper by Matt Huffman, Stefanie Knauer and me, “Stalled Progress? Gender Segregation and Wage Inequality Among Managers, 1980-2000,” in Work & Occupations.
- Follow the gender inequality tag
- Follow the Hanna Rosin tag
Or others who look carefully at the trends they’re reading and writing about.