Bosses are important. They have major influence on how employees learn and grow and perform. But as the ladies know, some bosses can be nicer to work for than others. In STEM fields particularly, Man Bosses are more common than not, and some Man Bosses can be better than others at helping STEM Fems learn and grow and perform.
Now I’ve had great success running into multiple brilliant Man Bosses in my life, and I’ve come up with five key ways to tell if a Man Boss can be the Best Boss. Men, listen and learn! STEM Fems, read and reflect if the men for whom you work exhibit these qualities!

#1 - He starts sentences with, "Back when I was in your position..."

I know what you’re thinking. Must all great Man Bosses be self-centered and perhaps narcissistic? But no… You see, if a Man Boss takes the time to tell you how his early career had similarities to yours, it means that he sees himself in you. That’s not something to be taken lightly! In fields where Man Bosses are generally more common than Lady Bosses, Fems are often left without compelling mentors – perhaps because people are naturally drawn to mentor little versions of themselves. So if the Man Boss tries to relate his experiences to yours, take it and run with it. He could be your biggest champion!

#2 - "She" is on his board of trustees

If your Man Boss thinks that you are awesome, chances are you aren’t the first Fem he’s felt like that about. I’ve talked to all sorts of ladies about the best Man Bosses they have had. And all of those Man Bosses had an interesting thing in common – they already had women in their lives that exhibited strength and brilliance and garnered respect. Frankly speaking, the Best Man Bosses have been trained to think ladies are good creature thinkers and task doers, and he expects these behaviors out of you.

#3 - He makes you feel uncomfortable

Little Fems often grow up without expectations that they will build ham radios or fry ants with magnifying glasses. Fast forward to today, and perhaps there is not an expectation that they will be STEM Subject Matter Experts or have tinkered around with side projects. No such lack of expectation is had by your Best Man Boss. The questions he asks Fem Workers are the same questions he asks Man Workers, and sometimes they make you think… why haven’t I done that… why don’t I know that… I really should do these things. Your Man Boss makes you feel uncomfortable in a way that inspires you to take risks and learn new things and explore your field. Gosh, he’s great!

#4 - He talks through the elder cis-male white men

We STEM Fems know what it feels like to be the representative for our gender at a meeting. When you speak out, with your voice rising at a higher frequency than all the others, perhaps some of the (Elder, White) Man Workers present do not take appropriate heed of your wise words. But this occurrence is not frequent with your Best Man Boss present. The Best Man Boss says things like, “Fem STEM Worker, what were the steps you took to arrive at your conclusion?” Or perhaps even, “Fem STEM Worker, what do you think?” And then he listens and reacts to your words! He visibly shows that he respects your opinion. Yes, the Best Boss Man lays the groundwork to make sure that your non-male voice gets a listen.

#5 - He gets visibly annoyed or angry with you

Last, but not least, the best Man Bosses think that you are every bit as good as your Man Coworkers. That means when you do something that’s not up to snuff, and he knows you can do better, he lets you know it. I’ve seen some Fem Folk get coddled on occasion, where they are allowed to underperform or are given much help in solving problems. Maybe it’s because people don’t expect the “softer sex” to be “good at machines,” or whatever else, but work for a good Man Boss, and he will make sure you critical think through every step of the mile. And if you don’t, he might get upset. In your direction.

Well, that’s it folks. You read about “5 ways” that STEM Fems should EXPECT their Man Bosses to behave. I hope that the Man Bosses out there have learned something and that the STEM Fems have learned something too!

Kira Greco

Kira Greco

Business Experience Lead - Kira has experience in business analysis, user experience, marketing, operations and project management. She has worked in many industries and uses her strong analytical skills to drive process performance and organizational efficiency. She holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering and an M.S. in Construction Management and Engineering from Stanford University. Favorite restaurant: The Porter