Men are Uncomfortable Managing Women

A recent study by says that 60% of men in management positions are uncomfortable participating in work activities with a woman. This a 32% increase from just one year ago. It says that activities, such as mentoring, working alone, or socializing together make them nervous.

The study says that “Senior-level men are now far more hesitant to spend time with junior women than junior men across a range of basic work activities”.



Male managers are 12 times more likely to hesitate to have 1-on-1 meetings, 9 times more likely to hesitate to travel together for work. And they are 6 times more likely to hesitate to have work dinners with junior women.



This doesn’t surprise me at all with the rise of the #MeToo movement in recent years. It’s a natural backlash for managers that do not know how to lead. If managers are nervous about how their activities will look regarding their interactions with women subordinates, then their way to manage and support their people in general is suspect.


How not to be Nervous

Leaders in any organization should be transparent and above board with everyone. If you are a male manager, overcoming nervousness about how you treat junior women involves some rethinking about how you deal with junior men as well as women.

  • 1-on-1 meetings. Just leave the door open if you are meeting in your office. Better yet, meet on their “turf” – at their office or cubicle.
  • Avoid travelling with just one other person, or take separate flights, car rides, etc. Sometimes, this is not easy, but well worth the extra effort to not allow the appearance of compromising positions.
  • Don’t have work dinners with anyone. It’s not necessary. No one likes to work outside work hours. If you can’t get your work done during the workday, something else is wrong.

Following some simple rules like these in managing all your people will enable you to reduce your nervousness about working with women. You will help them progress in your organization the way they should. It will also benefit all the people that report to you and set an example for younger managers that are watching you.

Jack Zoellner (Relational Leadership Speaker)

Jack Zoellner is the "Relational Leadership Speaker." He shares his revolutionary 5-step M.A.G.I.C. method for managing workers and radical company culture change through speaking, writing and consulting. For your next event, book Jack here >>