What Happens When Supervisors and Employees Have Different Genders?

Workplace demographics have changed in past decades, with an increase in the number of females in the workplace. Research has considered how this may influence attitudes and interpersonal interactions. For example, it is thought that dissimilar employees often suffer from social exclusion, because supervisors often prefer interactions with similar employees and exclude dissimilar employees. Will this be the case when supervisors and employees do not share the same gender?


Researchers (Adamovic & Molines, 2023) administered a three-part survey to employees in various organizations. The survey asked employees about how similar their supervisor’s values were to theirs, their general satisfaction with their supervisor, and their beliefs surrounding gender equality and equal opportunity within their workplace.

The results of the study show pitfalls of gender dissimilarity, but only in some circumstances. Specifically, employees who have a different gender than their supervisor may think that they also have different values. This leads these employees to be less satisfied with their supervisor. However, this was only true when employees had a lower level of belief in gender equality. When employees had a higher level of belief in gender equality, the gender dissimilarity did not seem to bother them.


According to the authors, the foremost takeaway of this research is the importance of believing in gender equality. In this study, this belief helped bridge the gap that may naturally form when employees and supervisors do not share the same gender. In addition, organizations can seek to promote gender equality, perhaps by utilizing training that seeks to mitigate existing gender stereotypes (e.g., women are more people-oriented while men are more competitive). Conversely, training can seek to emphasize how gender dissimilarity can lead to increased creativity, as a result of the varying perspectives that different types of people may naturally have. Further still, the authors make the case that organizations would benefit from seeking to establish a harmonious work environment, specifically by emphasizing the importance of close relationships, inclusiveness, and tolerance.


Adamovic, M., & Molines, M. (2023). What if the supervisor has a different gender? the roles of value fit, identification, and beliefs in gender equality. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 39(1).

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