Women ‘less funny’ in the boardroom?

Female bosses are met with awkward silences when they crack a joke in a meeting according to a new study

It seems men are the funnier sex when it comes to the boardroom while attempts at humour for 80 per cent of senior businesswomen are met with silence.

Research by linguistics expert Judith Baxter shows jokes cracked by women are more likely to be used as a defense mechanism, portraying themselves in a negative light.

‘Women would rather laugh at themselves on the whole than laugh at others because it is the safe option,’ says Dr Baxter, from Aston University, Birmingham. ‘When they do, their humour can appear contrived or occasionally, just mean.’

In comparison, 90 per cent of jokes made by men are met with a positive response characterised by an outburst of laughter or approval from the room.

‘Male managers use humour to demonstrate and display their leadership of a team,’ says Dr Baxter. ‘It is this leadership ‘tribe’ behaviour which women find hard to join in with.’

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