Americans no longer care whether the boss is male or female

November 21, 2017

The percentage of U.S. adults who prefer to report to a male boss is now 23%, reports Gallup. That’s a full 10 percentage points lower than the results of the last poll in 2014—and 43 points lower than the initial 1953 reading, when Gallup began conducting polls on this subject.

In fact, men are more likely (68%) than women (44%) to say they lack a clear preference. Women under the age of 50 say they prefer a female boss; those 50 and above were divided on the subject.

Today, 55% of Americans volunteer that, if they were interviewing for a new job, they would have no gender preference for a boss. Roughly equal percentages, 23% and 21%, say they would prefer a man or a woman, respectively.

In the 1980s, male bosses held as much as a 34-point advantage over female bosses, making the current (and statistically insignificant) two-point difference notable.

The public’s current break from its decades-long preference for male bosses could be a sign that recent news events have had an effect, although the shift could have occurred any time during the three years since the question was last asked.

The most recent survey was conducted  among 1,028 adult Americans by telephone during early November—about a month after multiple women accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment. In the weeks following the allegations against Weinstein, at least 20 other prominent men across a variety of industries have been accused of sexual harassment.

Since 2014 when Gallup last asked the gender preference question, there has been a universal decline in support for male bosses among all subgroups, although some have declined more than others. Some key differences between subgroups remain.

Americans younger than 35 prefer a female boss over a male boss by 14 points, while half say they have no preference.

Democrats tilt slightly toward favoring a female boss, but Republicans favor a male boss by 13 points. Those who are currently employed are more likely to say their gender preference is the same as their current boss.

While the public’s acceptance of women as bosses (including those who prefer a female boss or say they have no gender preference) has been at the majority level since the early 1990s, change has been slow in workplaces. The percentage of employed Americans who say they have a female boss has not changed significantly since 2011. Currently, 32% of those working full- or part-time say they have a female boss, and 52% have a male boss.

Research contact: datainquiry@gallup.com

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