Feminism impeding the advancement of women in boardrooms

Humour is a staple part of any boardroom discussion, as viewers of the BBC's The Apprentice will know. But research reveals that, while men benefit from the use of well-judged banter, the brand of humour used by leading businesswomen often leads to awkward silences and could be undermining their careers.
The claim is made by linguistics expert Dr Judith Baxter, who undertook an 18-month study into the speech patterns of men and women at meetings in seven big companies, including two in the FTSE 100. An analysis of the 600,000 words used during 14 meetings, seven led by a woman and seven by a man, found sharp differences between the use of humour by men and women in the boardroom – and how the jokes are received. Baxter discovered that the majority of male humour (80%) in business meetings takes the form of flippant, off-the-cuff witticisms or banter. About 90% of it receives an instant, positive response, usually as laughter.
Yet most female humour during the course of a meeting is self-deprecatory (70%) and more often than not (at least 80%) is received in silence, according to Baxter. Perhaps because of the poor reception accorded to women who used humour, men were also three times more likely to use jokes to lighten the mood in meetings they were leading.
Baxter, who is due to carry out further experiments on sex differences for a programme to be aired on BBC2 in September, said she believed the culture of male-dominated boardrooms was a challenge to women. She said: "My research has shown that male managers use humour to demonstrate and display their leadership of a team. Their male subordinates will also use 'display' humour to impress a male boss, because it shows they are on the same wavelength. It is part of leadership 'tribe' behaviour which women find hard to join. When women managers use humour it can misfire. This is partly because it is less culturally acceptable for women to use humour and partly because women haven't traditionally been part of the leadership tribe. It is not that women are less funny: they tend to use humour differently. They are more comfortable with using humour in pairs with a friend and less as a means to manage people. When they do, their humour can appear arch, contrived, defensive or occasionally, just mean.
"One type of humour women leaders do use more than men is self-deprecating humour… Women would rather laugh at themselves on the whole than laugh at others because it is the safe option.
I am surprised the linguistic expert missed the obvious reason why women self deprecating humor is not "well received."  The men do not want to be perceived as denigrating their female colleagues.  They also probably fear that the humor may be a set up for a sexual harassment, or hostile environment claim.  It is the same reason that jokes that might have a sexual edge to them are no longer as commonplace as they were before the "hostile environment" era became common.  The feminist have put women in the work place in an awkward position unintentionally.


  1. Women are much preferred in handle moderation in Board rooms attached with software Video conferencing .


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