Published On: Tue, May 22nd, 2012

Research Shows Men Get all the Laughs in the Boardroom While Women’s Jokes Fall Flat

We all know that there is real value in holding a good meeting or productive group sessions, and that it’s beneficial to start it off with a joke or an icebreaker.

Unsurprisingly, by contrast, men are likely to get a round of laughs if they make a joke in the boardroom, whereas a woman doing the same has more chance of being met with awkward silence, according to research.

Women’s attempts at humor are often seen as ‘contrived, defensive or just mean’, according to a study by linguistics expert Dr. Judith Baxter. The 18-month long study into speech patterns took place at business meetings, including at two companies in the FTSE 100.

The Daily Mail reported in an article published Monday that Dr. Baxter found; while 90 percent of jokes made by businessmen triggered an outburst of laughter, at least 80 percent made by their female counterparts resulted in silence.

As you would have thought, men are three times more likely to use humor when leading a meeting, according to the article.

Dr. Baxter, a senior lecturer at Aston University in Birmingham, said part of the problem may well lie in the way women use humor.

“One type of humor women leaders do use more than men is self-deprecating humor,” said Dr. Baxter. “Women would rather laugh at themselves on the whole than laugh at others because it is the safe option” she added.

Men on the other hand, use humor to demonstrate and display leadership, however as Dr. Baxter points out, it is still not culturally acceptable for women to do the wisecracking.

Dr. Baxter advises women to learn to develop the telling of jokes with male and female colleagues at appropriate moments such as the beginning and ends of meetings, passing in the corridor or around the coffee machine.

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