(FORTUNE Magazine) – In the April 14 issue, this column printed a letter from someone calling herself One of the Gals, who said she had worked for three female bosses in six years who were "manipulative, extremely hard on female team members but flirtatious with males, and all seemed to be fixated on ruining my career." In response, I suggested that such women bosses are the exception rather than the rule and wondered whether women might perhaps load up their female bosses with too many unrealistic expectations--such as that anybody female is automatically more "nurturing" than a man in the same position. I then asked for readers' comments, and guess what: To date, 266 of you have written (a new record that beats even the 153 letters I got about Generation Xers a couple of months back), and more than 200 of you say I'm all wet.

"You are absolutely wrong," writes one irate reader. "Women bosses tend to be catty, jealous, and bitchy--not just some of them but the vast majority." Adds Barbara from Wisconsin, in another typical letter: "I was amazed at your answer to One of the Gals. I have had two horrible female bosses who did all the things she described. By contrast, I had two male bosses who mentored me, encouraged me to go back to school, and took pride in my achievements. My daughter is now a young professional, and we both agree: We'd rather work for a man." Says Sedra from Brooklyn: "My two best bosses have been gay men. I'll take a male boss over a female boss anytime, and if you don't like it, send in a lady lawyer to sue me." Uh, that won't be necessary. Some women wrote that they got so fed up with trying to avoid bad female bosses that they left the corporate world altogether and started their own businesses. Writes one female entrepreneur who fled a series of abusive women bosses: "I can understand why bringing this out into the open may not be politically correct, but sometimes the truth hurts."

Men report some unpleasant experiences with female bosses too. A woman who took credit for other people's work and gave male underlings "extended unsolicited back rubs," writes Richard in New York, was "the only boss I ever quit on without notice. Life's too short to work for jerks, regardless of gender." No argument there. Observes Dan from somewhere in cyberspace: "I don't know, Annie, whether it is a lack of experience with team sports growing up or what, but women who manage other women do seem to be bad at it, and the resulting conflict disrupts the whole office, men included." The fault could lie, in part, with the way girls are--or used to be-- brought up. "Men grow up in hierarchies and understand how power is wielded," notes Pat Heim, author of a book called Smashing the Glass Ceiling. "Girls grow up sharing power equally. There never was a 'boss doll player.' " Well, in my neighborhood there was, but Heim makes a good point.

A sizable minority of correspondents think One of the Gals was way off base. Addressing her lament that her female bosses failed to mentor her, Bruce at Novell observes: "If gender is a criterion she's using for selecting a mentor, she doesn't grasp the mentor concept. A mentor should be someone of either sex whom she aspires to be like in five or ten years. I may be 'one of the guys,' but two of my most influential mentors have been women." Leslie from Pennsylvania agrees: "A mentor does not have to be the same sex, and probably should not be your boss either. I wouldn't go to my female boss for mentoring, for the simple reason that I want her job! She is, quite understandably, the last person who's going to help me get there!"

Many readers question whether female solidarity for its own sake necessarily makes sense. Asks Betsy S.: "Why are we stereotyping ourselves and expecting other women to nurture us all the time? I thought the goal of the women's movement was to break down the barriers so we could get in there and compete just like the men." Otherwise, says Claudia from California, "we run the risk of creating the same sort of atmosphere, substituting a 'girls club' for the old 'boys club,' that we all have tried to get away from."

And finally, a few voices of sweet reason pointed out that some men are no day at the beach to work for, either. "The problems described by One of the Gals are classic dysfunctional behaviors that can be found in both men and women," writes Tom E. Jones, a consultant in Fresno who wrote a book about this, Breakaway Management: Overcoming Dysfunction in the Workplace. "One of the Gals expected to be mentored, but mentoring is a functional act. A dysfunctional boss of either sex would lack the trust needed to deal openly with a mentee." Curious about whether your boss qualifies as dysfunctional? You can download a checklist of telltale behaviors from Jones' Website at