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\"How to Tell a Male Boss From a Female Boss.\"

-- A male boss is aggressive; a female boss is pushy.

-- A male boss is attentive to details; a female boss is picky.

-- He knows how to follow through; she doesn't know when to quit.

-- He's ambitious; she's driven.

-- He loses his temper occasionally; she can't control her emotions.

-- He isn't afraid to say what he thinks; she's mouthy.

-- He's a man of action; she's impulsive.

-- He controls his emotions; she's cold.

-- He thinks before he acts; she can't make up her mind.

-- He thinks before he speaks; she second-guesses herself.

-- He tells it like it is; she's tactless.

The list might read like an e-mail forward that people laugh at, but considering the average American woman earns approximately 21 percent less than the average man, is there any truth to these perceptions?

"I can tell you that the exact same behavior is judged differently, depending on whether it's a male or a female doing the behavior. This is true at all levels in the organization," says Gallagher, author of "Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Other Women."

It's all about perceptions

Leaders of both genders can show aggression and still be accepted by their employees. The problem arises for midlevel professionals.

"Yelling, berating underlings, slamming doors, throwing chairs and loud, truculent phone conversations with vendors on speakerphone that everyone can hear can sometimes be career-stallers,"

"If a woman acts out, underlings will gossip about her, and eventually their whispers will be overheard by someone in top management. If a man in the middle behaves in the same way, sometimes underlings will strive to ally with him. They may perceive that he is powerful or protected. His behavior is still errant, but it's less likely to get him in trouble because he'll have more allies to defend him if push comes to shove."

Beware of the 'crazy' woman

Workplace is more forgiving of a man than a woman," Firstein says. "A man being emotional usually means inability to control temper. A woman being emotional is being 'crazy.'"

The problem doesn't come only from men. She says women are more tolerant of a man's unfavorable behavior than a woman's. As a result, a strong woman is seen as competition by male and female colleagues alike, putting her in a tougher spot than her male counterparts.

Sometimes people react at the office in a similar way as they've been conditioned to in their personal lives," Fits of rage could be the result of upbringing or a current household, not necessarily your performance.

"If you happen to be on the receiving end of [someone's] outbursts, it's helpful to remind yourself that most over-the-top reactions are not about business ... it is personal, and it's about something in that person's life that has nothing whatsoever to do with you. The person is just venting steam."

Does that mean you have to accept what's happening? No. Learning how to deal with an angry boss is one thing; learning how to stand up for yourself is another.


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