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Video: Women bosses more likely to promote men?

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    >> announcer: today's working woman is brought to you by mcdonald's. i'm lovin' it.

    >> back at 8:17. today, the queen bee syndrome. if you have lofty career goals you may not want a woman as your boss.

    >> i have never worked for somebody who was younger than me before, or for a woman.

    >> that's not going to be a problem, is it?

    >> no.

    >> reporter: for years, female bosses have been portrayed as overbearing.

    >> i need you this weekend to review files and the manuscript.

    >> this weekend?

    >> do you have a problem with that?

    >> reporter: back stabbing.

    >> i need 10 or 15 skirts from calvin klein .

    >> what kind of skirt --

    >> please bore someone else with your questions.

    >> reporter: as queen bees .

    >> queen bee syndrome is a senior female who's worked her way up. once she gets positioned she doesn't play very nicely in the sand box .

    >> reporter: a new study suggests women who break through the glass ceiling are more likely to help male workers rather than female workers. according to the findings, men exceeded women in receiving job-related support from female supervisors and were more optimistic about promotion chances as a result.

    >> reporter: lara dillion isn't surprised. she started her career working under a woman and said she's experienced queen bee syndrome firsthand.

    >> some of the challenges i encountered with female bosses is this lack of trust or a competitiveness.

    >> reporter: the numbers suggest many americans have a negative perception of female bosses. according to a gallup survey people say if they got a new job, twice as many would rather work for a man than a woman. ella bell is a professor at dartmouth who's written about the perceived differences.

    >> particularly a male-dominated culture, become more hyper competitive.

    >> reporter: bell says it's everyone's responsibility to improve office dynamics.

    >> it's not about fixing women . it's about making organizations more flexible and more tolerant.

    >> reporter: a lesson lara has also learned.

    >> you take the time to mentor and develop a person and work with their strengthses can give you such a high return versus being competitive, making them feel bad.

    >> reporter: women redefining leadership as they move up in an increasingly complex corporate ladder.

    >> marcie alvaher is a career expert and robi ludwig is a frequent contributor.

    >> i think there is truth to it when you look at the studies. many studies indicate both men and women prefer to work for men. but there are reasons for that. we were talking about it that for a lot of women in order to get to the top, they had to act like men. they had to be alpha women . in some cases, and i have had patients like this, they modeled themselves after men and it didn't look right on a woman. we expect different things from female bosses.

    >> what do we expect from female bosses that we don't from men?

    >> i think rather than labeling something for the few women who have made it to the top -- i mean, there are plenty of male bosses and we don't have a king snake syndrome. like professor bell we should talk about grooming women for the top and how both men and women can be better mentors.

    >> you say the environment in the work force create it is situation.

    >> we need to work on changing the environment, yes.

    >> the original thought was when social sciences were looking at this phenomenon in the work place there was a thinking if we had more women in the work place women would nurture other women . they would be better bosses because they could delegate more, mentor.

    >> this study suggests it isn't happening.

    >> when we found the opposite to be true it was shocking. we want women to be the good mother. when women or men were having a different experience it was doubly upsetting.

    >> these bosses have power over us.

    >> women are in a double bind. it's harder to succeed and when we do we have to attach a bad label to it. as women , we are not helping the situation by focusing on talking about a syndrome. when men succeed we don't talk about a syndrome. we talk about success.

    >> but there is a situation going on. what's causing it? there are reports that -- or studies that suggest women in positions of power sometimes suffer self-esteem issues and that triggers this.

    >> in part. i think there are a few things. number one, they are surviving. there are only a few women at the top. there aren't tons of availability like there are for men. so if a woman is going to help another woman get to the top, where is she going to be? also, if we look at it from a cultural perspective we tell women they have no value once they are not young and attractive anymore. it sets up this competitive type of component in the work place. if we had a lot of jobs for women and a lot of possibilities and told them as they age they are still valuable like men i think we would be seeing something different and having a different conversation.

    >> if you're a woman working under a female boss, how do you deal with this be?

    >> first i want to say if you are a man or a woman and you have a boss who's standing in your way, i want to give you the same advice. that's the important thing i want people to take away. figure out, can you work around this boss or is it time to move on? that's the question to ask yourself. you should also step back and say, is it my boss getting in the way? do a self-assessment and say, am i advocating enough for myself? that's something men know how to do when they are coming up the pipeline.

    >> thank you very much for your perspective.

Image: Robi Ludwig
By TODAY contributor
TODAY contributor
updated 4/12/2011 8:35:32 AM ET 2011-04-12T12:35:32

I once heard a quote stating, “In a social context, both women and men prefer to be in the company of men.”

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Ouch! Whatever happened to the sisterhood of women?

It's rare to find it in the workplace, according to a few new studies. Three quarters of men said they would much rather work for a man than a woman. A quarter of woman polled found their female bosses to be backstabbing and to have poor personal boundaries when it came to sharing their personal lives at the office. Another study found that female bosses were easily threatened, emotionally unpredictable or irritable. Other negative descriptors for the female boss included, “moody,” “sharp tongued,” “too cliquey” and “vain.”

And the last nail in the coffin? According to the American Management Association, 95 percent of women felt undermined at some point in their career by other women.

Some social theorists initially thought women would make better bosses than men because they could be more supportive leaders, would be more inclined to delegate responsibilities and would foster the careers of their subordinates, most especially their female subordinates. This idealized notion has not matched the general consensus of reality. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.

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There’s even a term used to describe difficult female bosses: Queen Bee Syndrome.

The Queen Bee boss is the alpha female who tries to preserve her power at all costs. Instead of promoting her younger counterparts, she feels threatened by them, judges them, talks about them and, in many cases, ends up obstructing their attempts to climb the corporate ladder.

This Queen Bee Syndrome — aside from making the workplace gravely unpleasant — can also make a person sick. According to one group of German researchers, women who reported to female supervisors had higher cases of depression, headaches, heartburn and insomnia than if their bosses were men.

So why is this happening? Are women just destined to mercilessly compete with one another? Are female bosses beyond change?

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As an eternal optimist, I refuse to accept this syndrome as a permanent state of affairs. We have to look at this trend from a socio/cultural perspective.

For example, there aren’t a lot of top management positions for women — especially when we compare them to men. Female bosses could feel more threatened and less generous about sharing their positions of power as there are fewer opportunities for them.

In some cases, women who reach the top, try to manage like men, yet it doesn’t work as well for them. Men can behave in a way found unacceptable in women. Loud, public directives from the female boss is often interpreted as nasty or offensive. For men, this is not always the case. Perhaps this is because women are expected to be more maternal and interact on a more personal and intimate level.

Women are also trained from an early age to believe that they are valued for being young and attractive. Once they’re not youthfully attractive, they fear being replaced by someone younger, smarter or whatever the perceived competition of the moment seems to be. Men don’t have this same fear. There are a lot of older men in top positions who are considered at the top of their game.

How do we reverse this trend?

I believe as more options become available to women and the workplace continues to expand, female bosses will find their own confident niche. They'll even become the nurturing, supportive bosses that social theorists always believed they could be.

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