Female bosses 'less funny in the boardroom'
FEMALE bosses are less likely to make jokes in the boardroom because they are met with an awkward silence for eight out of every ten attempts at humour, a study has revealed.
Research has shown women are more likely to use self-deprecation as humour, with their attempts at cracking jokes views as “contrived, defensive or just mean”.
The study, by linguistics expert Judith Baxter, showed more than 80 per cent of quips made by senior female figures were met with silence, with 70 per cent portraying themselves in a modestly negative light.
In comparison, 90 per cent of jokes made by men were found to achieve a positive response, with an immediate outburst of laughter or approval.
As a result, it was found, men are more than three times more likely to make jokes while leading a meeting than their female counterparts.
Dr Baxter, from Aston University, Birmingham, spent 18 months studying the speech pattern of employees at seven large companies, including two in the FTSE 100.
Of the 600,0000 words used across 14 meetings, half of which were led by women and half by men, she found women used a distinct type of humour differently to men.
She said: “One type of humour women leaders do use more than men is self-deprecating humour.
“Women would rather laugh at themselves on the whole than laugh at others because it is the safe option.
“When they do, their humour can appear arch, contrived, defensive or occasionally, just mean.
“My research has shown that male managers use humour to demonstrate and display their leadership of a team.
“Their male subordinates will also use 'display' humour to impress a male boss, because it shows they are on the same wavelength. It is part of leadership 'tribe' behaviour which women find hard to join.”
Dr Baxter advised senior women to consider practising a “light, teasing banter” with colleagues to use at appropriate moments.