Study Says Women Who Do This at Work Won't Get Promoted

No joke: Your razor-sharp wit is knee-capping your career.

two women joking around their desk, how parenting has changed

Are you a woman who loves her job? Are you funny? Do you look forward to going into work every day so you can joke around with your colleagues and partake in a lively, congenial atmosphere? If so, too bad.

Because a new study from the University of Arizona and the University of Colorado at Boulder says that women who engage in humor at the office are far less likely to be taken seriously than male counterparts who do the same thing.

The researchers surveyed more than 200 people and showed them a video of a male manager and a female manager—both named Sam—and both of whom delivered messages in a funny way. The results found that when the man delivered the jokes, they were perceived to be "functional," but when the woman did so, it was considered to be "disruptive," even though they were working off of the same script.

The researchers theorize that the results show that when male managers joke around, it's likely to be viewed as a buoy to office camaraderie. But, when women do it, it seems to somehow signal a lack of professionalism and leadership skills.

"Based on PCST, we argue that gender stereotypes constrain the interpretation of observed humor such that humor expressed by males is likely to be interpreted as more functional and less disruptive compared to humor expressed by females," the paper reads. "As a result, humorous males are ascribed higher status compared to non-humorous males, while humorous females are ascribed lower status compared with nonhumorous females."

The research extends beyond the office as well. In fact, an assessment of several studies on the topic led The Scientific American to conclude: "Men want someone who will appreciate their jokes, and women want someone who makes them laugh."

The belief is that, from an evolutionary perspective, women are pickier than men and view a sense of humor is viewed as a positive, in league with traits such as intelligence, creativity, adventurousness, and openness to new experiences. For women, they say, making people laugh has no evolutionary benefit whatsoever. (If this sounds familiar, perhaps you were one of the many readers who eye-rolled their way through the late writer Christopher Hitchens' infamous 2007 essay for Vanity Fair titled, "Why Women Aren't Funny.")

But we don't live in the Stone Age anymore, and while it's understandable that some of our primal traits still strongly influence our behavior, it's high time we accept funny women in the workplace with the same enthusiasm that we do with men. And for more on gender disparity in the office, find out Why Women Are Taking Off Their Wedding Rings Before Job Interviews.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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