Women in leadership roles often get penalized when they’re seen as acting too aggressive at work. They often walk a precarious tightrope, expected to act like a “leader” but are also criticized for acting outside female stereotypes if they’re seen as being too dominant, too pushy, too self-promotional, too ambitious.
And according to a new study, the joke’s on them: Female leaders can apparently get dinged for being too funny on the job, too.
In a forthcoming paper in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers at the University of Arizona and University of Colorado at Boulder tested how humor is viewed when it comes from male vs. female leaders giving a presentation. When a woman used humor, the study found, participants were more likely to view it as “disruptive” or distracting from the task at hand, while jokes cracked by men during the presentation were more likely to be seen as “functional” or helpful.