By Pat Heim, Ph.D.

Do you prefer to work for a man or a woman? Gallup has been posing this question since the 1950s. Most men today say they have no preference (57%) yet when women are asked the dominant answer (39%) is that they would prefer to work for a man. Why would this be?

In our book In the Company of Women: Indirect Aggression Among Women Why We Hurt Each Other and How to Stop by Heim, Murphy and Golant we discuss this mystifying situation. Men grow up in hierarchies. From the games they play as children to the corporations they work in men know their position in the hierarchy and as long as their leader acts like a boss/coach men are comfortable. Girls on the other hand grow up sharing power; there is never a boss doll player. Telling others what to do and getting into conflict stops the play for girls.

Women in the corporate world often expect power to be shared among women. We call this The Power Dead Even Rule. Imagine a group of female colleagues who are peers and friends. One is promoted and now the boss. What happens? Often relationships are strained if not broken. The power equality has been violated.

If this sounds like your world, see our book In the Company of Women for successful strategies to manage this tricky situation.