Humour – it is something that we expect is liked in all the places — except at funerals and other sad places though!
However, it’s interesting to note that humour may form different opinions, especially in a workplace, where you spend a maximum number of productive hours in a day.
The paper titled as LEADER HUMOUR talks about the Gender and Evaluation of Humour at work.
The study was conducted by a research team from the University of Arizona and the University of Colorado. They in-took the data from 300 employees in the U.S. from a diverse range of industries. The study group also included people of both sexes to analyse their opinions.
The paper says that “Women’s use of humour will trigger lower ratings of status compared to non-humorous women, while men’s use of humour will trigger higher ratings of status compared to non-humorous men.
This affects the way the promotions, increments and other appreciations work.
How was the study carried?
The team developed four video recordings of a retail store manager reporting the store performance to a group of regional managers. Two videos had a woman store manager acting 2 roles (funny in one and un-humorous in the other). Similarly, the two other videos included men acting (funny in one and un-humorous in the other).
The script was the same for all the four videos. The videos were shown to the participants and were asked to rate in terms of the effectiveness of the presentation and what did they think of the leader.
The research argues that humour expressed by men would be seen as more functional than humour expressed by women, while humour expressed by women would be seen as more disruptive than humour expressed by men, leading to higher and lower perceptions of status, respectively. Status would then determine performance evaluations and assessments of leadership capability.
Gender Stereotyping is the term that comes into consideration upon the completion of the research. Men are perceived to be ambitious, so even their humour seems to a value-addition for the organization. However, ladies are considered to work less effectively owing to their household responsibilities. As such, their humour is seen as an interruption, thereby giving an identity of being less committed.
Limitations of Research
The paper says that the conclusion of the study must be taken in lighter note owing to the fact that the participants of the survey were seeing the leader on screen for the very first time and had no previous interactions. The opinions may change in the practical scenario where they see their lady leader working hard for the company and yet tries to boost the morale of the team through little humour.
Where does the reality stand?
The question arises why women representation is less, below 5%, in the list of Fortune 500? Why do we have less of women managers and more male managers? Why do people don’t like to work under a leader who is a woman? If every person tries answering them genuinely, it would help nurture more equality among genders in terms of salary, reputation and the work environment.