The New York Times set off a minor tempest in the blogosphere with an interview a week ago with Carol Smith, senior vice president and chief brand officer for the Elle Group, publisher of the fashion magazine Elle. The headline: No Doubts: Women Are Better Managers. You can imagine the reaction.
The article was part of a regular Sunday feature, The Corner Office, in which some exec spills the secrets to their success in a question and answer format. Author Adam Bryant at one point asks Smith to share her observations on men vs women as managers. Her response:
In my experience, female bosses tend to be better managers, better advisers, mentors, rational thinkers. Men love to hear themselves talk. I’m so generalizing. I know I am. But in a couple of places I’ve worked, I would often say, “Call me 15 minutes after the meeting starts and then I’ll come,” because I will have missed all the football. I will have missed all the “what I did on the golf course.” I will miss the four jokes, and I can get into the meeting when it’s starting. Have to admit, loved the part about coming into the meeting 15 minutes late so she can miss the sports talk and the four jokes.
The interview was on the Times web site’s most-read list for over a week, and garnered more than 300 comments. The paper revisited the issue this past Sunday in its Room For Debate blog, asking several experts about the differences between men and women as managers. Alice Eagly, chairman of the department of social psychology at Northwestern University, warned about overgeneralizing based on gender, but then made this observation:
Women are less “bossy,” probably because people dislike bossy women even more than bossy men. As a result, female managers are more collaborative and democratic than male managers. Second, compared with men, women use a more positive approach by encouraging and urging others rather than a negative approach of scolding and reprimanding...