Surely, in this day and age, the issue of women being poor managers has long been laid to rest—right? Wrong. Recently on The Huffington Post, Ella L.J. Edmondson Bell, an associate professor at the Tuck School of Business, examined stereotypes about women in the workplace after a quick survey of her business-school students found some 90 percent of the women in her class would prefer to work for a man.
ForbesWoman picked up on Edmonson Bell’s blog post and, like her, found tons of research supporting this preference. One 2008 survey, for examples, showed that women working under a female supervisor reported more symptoms of emotional distress and physical stress than women working under a man.
After surveying its readership ForbesWoman found a similar preference, with women bosses being categorized as bitchy, competitive, over-emotional, conniving and (my favorite) “evil.” It’s sobering that even among women who are actively trying to improve their business skills, take leadership roles and empower themselves and others, so many feel this way.
What’s the takeaway for you as a woman entrepreneur? I’m not saying you should bend over backwards to be nice to your staff (though many of us do). But one complaint many of the women had was that women in positions of power are too busy looking after themselves to look out for others.
As someone who’s met the challenge of building your own business, take care that you don’t lose sight of other women who haven’t reached your level. Mentor your female employees, or set up programs for them to mentor each other. Reach out to young women considering entrepreneurship, whether at the college, high school or even elementary-school level. Show your daughters, nieces and other girls in your life by your example how fulfilling the life of an entrepreneurial woman can be, so we can once and for all rid ourselves of the “women make bad managers” myth.