The Devil of Female Bosses

"They are hormonal, incapable of leaving their personal lives at home and only too happy to talk about their staff behind their backs."
Pic of Anna Wintour courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald
So begins an article in the UK’s Daily Mail, which recaps a recent survey about men and women’s perceptions of female bosses by the website UKJobs.net. The job search site claimed to have interviewed 3,000 men and women; with three-fourths of men claiming they prefer male bosses and a whopping two-thirds of women preferring males as well.


The top reasons for this assessment? Those interviewed claimed that women were more competitive, had a sharper tongue, and weren’t as straight-talking as men. Another disturbing conclusion: interviewees viewed women as more prone to mood swings, especially during “that time of the month.”



Was this survey taken in 2010 or 1950? I had no idea that the “researchers” at UKJobs.net had time traveling capabilities. Because if this survey is legitimate, it’s hard for me to believe that so many British workers would even admit to having such outdated, clich├ęd and downright misogynistic viewpoints.

Recently, I watched "The September Issue," a documentary profiling infamous Vogue high priestess Anna Wintour. Wintour, as many fashionable ladies know, provided the basis for the ice queen boss of the popular novel-turned-film The Devil Wears Prada. The fictitious version of the editor-in-chief was absurdly domineering and pushy, to the point of demeaning her employees if they did not cater to her every whim. But in the documentary, Wintour is surely intimidating, surely a force to be reckoned with, but she is nowhere near the sadistic she-devil that her mythmakers would have you believe.

Yet somehow I wasn’t surprised that Wintour’s reputation had preceded her. As outlined in both The Devil and The September Issue, Wintour is arguably the most influential woman in fashion today. As a tastemaker and businesswoman extraordinaire, she holds remarkable sway over what the masses wear on a global scale, and this can translate into billions for the fashion industry each year. So as a woman with such an insurmountable level of power in the business world, is it any wonder that she has become an icon for the myth of the hellish female boss?

Bosses and supervisors will always be pushy, demanding, even backstabbing, etc; but the longer we attribute these qualities to a specific gender, the longer we fortify the glass ceiling for the majority of the population—that is, the female gender—who are now eclipsing men in education levels and real world qualifications. Gender studies that sway public opinion into believing that there are stark contrasts between men and women in the workplace are not only harmful to women, but they provide further reasons for men to judge their coworkers unfairly. Anna Wintour may be a complete witch to work for, but if she were a man, would the world even notice Wintour at all?