5 Brain-Based Reasons Why Women Make Better Bosses

Women Make Better Bosses

Although male bosses continue to outnumber female bosses roughly 2 to 1, according to recent data, there’s compelling evidence that indicates female bosses have unique strengths and attributes that may make them even more effective and transformational than their male counterparts. What’s more, it appears that some of these differences in male and female leaders are brain-based. Indeed, male and female brains are not the same.

The activity and volume observed in certain areas of the female brain appear to afford women the gifts of intuition, empathy, collaboration, self-control, and a moderate amount of worry (conscientiousness). It turns out that these attributes make for exceptional leadership! Here’s how these brain-based differences make women better bosses.

The female brain appears to afford women the gifts of intuition, empathy, collaboration, self-control, and a moderate amount of worry (conscientiousness). It turns out that these attributes make for exceptional leadership! Click To Tweet

5 Brain-Based Reasons Why Women Make Better Bosses

1. Empathy

The female brain is built for empathy—the ability to identify and share in another individual’s experience. The human brain has something called mirror neurons, which are activated when we empathize with another person. These mirror neurons remarkably allow us to feel what another person is feeling. A study published in Neuroscience found that women have significantly more gray matter in the area of the brain’s mirror-neuron systems than men. Another study found that women recruited areas containing mirror neurons to a higher degree than males did during exercises where they focused on emotional responses in themselves or others.

This stronger tendency towards empathy may also have to do with female brains having a greater volume in the frontal lobes than men. The frontal lobe regions hold many social and emotional processes and may be critical for cognitive empathy.

How does this translate into being better bosses? A woman’s enhanced empathy strengthens her ability to build consensus within a group. Research indicates that empathy in leadership contributes to organizational effectiveness by naturally inspiring diversity, inclusivity, and greater employee engagement and retention, as well as promoting a culture of care, innovation, and responsibility.

2. Self-Control

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is the area at the very front of the frontal lobe. Researchers have found that the female brain’s PFC typically has more volume than male brains do. This area, considered to be the executive part of the brain, is responsible for decision-making, learning from mistakes, organization, planning, concentration/focus, self-control, forethought, judgment, and impulse control. It also controls anger and aggression.

This may be why research has shown women tend to be better at managing strong negative emotions than men. Women can more easily keep them in check. This measure of self-control combined with the female brain’s empathic capacity helps women to more easily pick up on emotional cues from others.

In a professional setting, this trait would alert a female boss to an escalating situation and better allow her to diffuse it. Keeping their cool, women are better able to respond to distress with calm, rather than aggression, and more swiftly come to a resolution. Ultimately, self-control allows women to exert excellent managerial skills.

3. Intuition

Across cultures and for millennia, humans have believed that women have access to an inner “knowing” that, at times, seems unexplainable. It’s called intuition. Without the reasoning process behind it and from beyond our awareness, an intuitive idea or thought presents itself to the conscious mind. While both men and women experience intuition, the structure of the female brain gives women an advantage or greater access to this phenomenon.

In the brain, gray matter is made up mostly of brain cell bodies—and white matter is composed of brain cell tracks (kind of like “communication” cables) that make the connection between the cells. In the regions of the brain related to intelligence, male brains have more gray matter, and female brains have more white matter, according to a study conducted at the University of California, Irvine. This is significant because it suggests that men are more likely to process information in a localized way while female brains connect with many areas of the brain at the same time. Women are more able to dip into the right side of their brains, which is believed to be the emotional and spiritual center of the brain—a place of extra-sensory wisdom. A woman’s brain can pick up on more cues and information and connect them.

Additionally, women are more connected to gut feelings. Brain-imaging research reveals that women have areas deep in the frontal lobes called the insula and anterior cingulate gyrus that are larger. These larger areas track gut feelings.

Thus, the female mind is equipped to more quickly assess the thoughts of others based on hunches or gut feelings, or only bits of information. In the business world today, when a woman can use her intuition, she can get to solutions faster than if she had to wade through lots of data. She can be highly responsive and a powerful detector of situations that may affect an organization. Research shows that intuitive women are some of the most creative and transformational leaders.

4. Collaboration

Effective bosses know how to leverage strengths in an organization through collaboration. Communication is very important when it comes to asking for cooperation and help—essential ingredients in successful collaboration. The language centers in female brains are typically more developed than in male brains, research has found, which may be why women can readily communicate their need for help and collaborate with others.

Promoting successful collaboration stems from a woman’s empathic nature too. Many female bosses encourage collaboration over individual power. To merge missions and objectives, and leverage talent to reach a greater vision or outcome for an organization requires collaboration.

5. A Little Worry

In one of the largest functional brain-imaging studies, which appeared in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Amen Clinics compared the brain SPECT scans of more than 46,000 male and female brains and found pronounced differences in activity in blood flow, showing women to have more active, busy brains. Busy female minds have a tendency towards worry, which in small doses, can be surprisingly very beneficial.

Thankfully, the brain has inhibitory neurotransmitters designed to soothe activity, and calm thoughts, as well as promote well-being and relaxation. One of them is serotonin, which is also involved with mood, sleep, pain, and appetite regulation. Research shows that serotonin production is 52% greater in men than women. Brain SPECT scans at the Amen Clinics also show that low serotonin levels, which are associated with overactivity, have been observed in the worry and mood centers of the brain. With female brains having less serotonin than male brains, it may help explain why women have higher rates of worry, anxiety, and depression.

However, a small amount of anxiety can be good. In a work environment, this tendency to worry can be particularly helpful in seeing potential problems ahead of time. A female boss can recognize problems before they get out of control. They can even act to prevent problems before they happen and seek help when it is needed.

When you combine a small amount of worry with an intuitive, empathic mind, a female boss could potentially recognize an unhappy workforce and take steps to engage and communicate with workers in order to address issues and resolve them.

A Harvard Business Review article titled “Are Women Better Leaders?” noted that women leaders reported that they worked harder to prove their value. They worry that they cannot rest on their laurels. The article recognized this worry as being beneficial in the workplace as it counters complacency, and even implied male bosses might benefit from this kind of conscientiousness.

Mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. Interesting but doesn't necessarily reflect reality and totally disregards any negative aspects of female bosses.

    Comment by Marilyn K Clark — May 19, 2023 @ 5:45 AM

  2. Fantastic article! Concise, well reasoned and evidence-based. The importance of this work cannot be overstated….
    While the last comment alludes to negative aspects unrepresented, I don’t believe that was the point of the article. We all have certain gifts and advantages and we either use them for good or not. There are good and bad male and female leaders but this shows why the female brain has distinct characteristics that can be an advantage when they are in leadership roles.

    Comment by Sheryl Anjanette — May 19, 2023 @ 11:08 AM

  3. Agreed with the other comment. Female bosses can also be catty and vindictive.

    Comment by Deborah N — May 19, 2023 @ 12:16 PM

  4. This is a wonderfully accurate article founded upon physical characteristics of brain development in line with Dr. Christian Northrup's presentation on male/female inutero development. There isn't a "better" or "worse" comparison, just differences and why we must recognize the intrinsic advantage of female leadership. Male bosses are often treacherous with hidden agendas for pressuring an employee to resign so he can avoid unemployment benefits while replacing a valuable worker with one of his friends or a person who can serve special outside interests. Men can be very Machiavellian.

    Comment by Diane Cartwright — May 19, 2023 @ 3:20 PM

  5. Women need to have eyes in the backs of their heads in order to keep the kids alive and the men happy. I believe this is why women in the military or organizations that are top-down authoritarian and loyalty-based (military and para-military, government bureaucracy and politics, team sports) are more likely to be whistle-blowers: they have multiple loyalties and a brain to support that idea, even if they are "military-minded" like their brothers and fathers, culturally. Narrow focus, competition, and striving for dominance, are not drivers that are helpfully applied by moms to infants and toddlers. Women are more likely to need social situational awareness to maintain good relationships around the campfire, rather than on a battlefield. It is this difference that causes them to choose working conditions over pay when they decide where to work. Men can have some of these traits, too, but most of them won't seek militaristic employment. The whistle-blowers get pushed into choosing a broader more-inclusive loyalty than just the one provided by the uniform when faced with the dilemma of institutional wrong-doing.

    Comment by Sandra — May 19, 2023 @ 4:07 PM

  6. I think the article is accurate.
    I was in the Navy on active duty from 1968-1972. I was a psychiatric technician, working on a women’s psychiatric ward at Bethesda naval hospital. I asked for that ward because the two other choices were the officers Ward and the unlisted ward and I knew that women were much better at dealing with their feelings. I didn’t want the officers ward because it was hard to get them to talk about feelings directly.
    Any way that worked out well for me!!

    Comment by Dan Pease — May 19, 2023 @ 8:10 PM

  7. No. This is NOT scientifically valid. I had one woman who was excellent and the rest terrible and the same with the men. I have all 6 characteristics and men do have these traits as well. Sometimes women become shrews when they demand and are given power. Some men as well. Your scientific model here is not valid.

    Comment by James Howard — May 19, 2023 @ 9:05 PM

  8. Men and women have strengths and weaknesses. I have worked for women who were unkind, narcissistic, even vicious. One woman supervisor was so abusive and oppressive that I became very sick and unable to work for a while. Women are not superior to men. Women and men share similar and different traits and abilities.

    Comment by Karin Turkington — May 27, 2023 @ 9:16 AM

  9. The one who created women has given these specific gifts for a good plan in facilitating the man in raising children and bringing cohesiveness to the family. While I do agree on many points I give all the credit to our creator. You left our influence which is powerful when a women uses this gift to build the family, church, community and nation!

    Comment by Marsha Grant — May 29, 2023 @ 5:47 PM

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