Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Outdoor Voices gets the New Yorker treatment, UBS uses bonuses to ding moms, and the gender gap in humor is no laughing matter. Have a terrific Tuesday.
• Humor me. Like so many of us, four researchers—three from the University of Arizona and one from the University of Colorado Boulder—had heard about the benefits of humor among workplace leaders; that it increases employees’ performance and job satisfaction, reduces stress, generates a positive mood, and boosts motivation.
All upside, right? Right—unless a woman is the one telling the jokes.
In their newly published study, the authors discovered that—you guessed it—there’s a gender gap in humor, too.
The researchers had actors, one man and one woman, give two presentations each to 300 participants. One presentation was sprinkled with a few self-deprecating jokes, and the other was exactly the same minus the one-liners.
“When the male manager added humor to the presentation,” the researchers found, “he was given higher ratings of perceived status, job performance, and leadership capability compared to when he did not include any humor. However, the opposite occurred for the female manager. Adding humor led to lower ratings of perceived status, job performance, and leadership capability.”
The differing perceptions were not necessarily attributable to the individual joke-tellers, but were due instead to the participants’ pre-existing gender norms, as is so often the case.
Participants considered the man’s sense of humor to be “functional,” a tool that helped lighten the mood, made difficult problems seem less overwhelming, and encouraged positive attitudes. The authors surmised that’s because “[m]en are stereotyped as having high achievement orientation, ambition, and focus on task accomplishment. These expectations align closely with the functional interpretation of humor.”
The woman’s sense of humor, meanwhile, “was scored as less functional and more disruptive than the man’s use of humor.” Her insertion of jokes “led to lower ratings of perceived status, job performance, and leadership capability,” the authors say. That reflects stereotypes of women having fewer achievements, less ambition, and increased family responsibilities.
Participants’ comments told the story rather starkly. The humorous woman showed “poor judgment in jokes” and tried “to cover up her lack of real business acumen by making little jokes.” The joking man was “witty” and used humor “to break up the monotony of his presentation.”
So what’s a funny girl to do?
“This doesn’t mean that women should refrain from humor,” the authors write. (Was that ever on the table?!) And they do warn that their findings may only apply to first impressions, like a job interview or initial client meeting. What’s more, they urge organizations and managers to “increase awareness of this prejudice.” When equality-minded people learn about such biases, the authors say, they “become more vigilant” and work to avoid succumbing to them. HBR
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Another Andy Rubin. Remember the $90 million Google paid Andy Rubin after he was accused of sexual harassment? Well, that wasn’t the only such payout made by the company: Google also agreed to pay Amit Singhal, another alleged sexual harasser, $45 million. Singhal, the head of search, was accused of groping a female employee at an off-site event. Google ended up paying him only $15 million when he left because he joined a competitor. Wall Street Journal
• Paid leave with a price. At UBS, if you take maternity leave, your bonus may get cut. Top female bankers at the firm are criticizing their employer for the longstanding practice that left them making less than they did before they became mothers. One woman “had her bonus reduced and re-based four times after having had four children,” another was informed that being a working mother was a “lifestyle choice” that justified her lower bonus, and a third was told to “focus on her baby” when she challenged the policy. Financial Times
• A mishandled #MeToo allegation? Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is the presidential candidate who’s most closely linked to the #MeToo movement, thanks to her work on sexual assault in the military. But a female staffer in Gillibrand’s office last summer reported that a senior aide, Abbas Malik, harassed her. Malik was not fired, and the female staffer resigned in protest of how the investigation was handled. Gillibrand only fired Malik recently, after Politico unearthed additional allegations against him not covered by the office’s investigation. Politico
• #DoingThings. The New Yorker‘s Jia Tolentino has a new, definitive piece on Outdoor Voices, its founder Tyler Haney, and what it means to be a young, successful female founder. Read on for details on the brand employees refer to as “the hiking buddy who brought the snacks” and a meditation on female entrepreneurship. The New Yorker
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Becky Brooks has left CBS to join Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi. Jessica Elgot was named chief political correspondent for The Guardian. Catherine Levene was promoted to president/chief digital officer for Meredith’s National Media Group. The Cory Booker presidential campaign hired Sabrina Singh as national press secretary, Vanessa Valdivia as deputy national press secretary for Spanish language media, and Julie McClain Downey as director of state communications; McClain Downey talked on Twitter about starting a high-profile campaign job at seven months pregnant. NBCUniversal’s Lori Conkling joins YouTube as global head of partnerships for YouTube TV and Google Fiber. Soylent hired Julie Daoust as VP of product development and innovation.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Billion-dollar budget line. The Trump administration released its $4.7 trillion budget proposal on Monday. The proposal isn’t likely to pass as is, but it includes a one-time $1 billion earmarked for a child care fund that would “improve access to care for underserved populations.” States could apply for funding and use that money to encourage employers to invest in child care or support child care offerings outside usual work hours. It’s a proposal championed by Ivanka Trump. NPR
• Awkward moment with Australia… In 2017, Julie Bishop, then Australia’s foreign minister, was at the UN when President Trump started talking to her husband. Melania Trump turned to Bishop and asked if Bishop would be coming to the ladies’ lunch she was hosting. Everyone was confused, until it was explained to the first lady that Bishop, not her husband, was the foreign minister. Bishop told the whole story at an event this weekend. New York Magazine
• Cut it out, Carlson. Outrage over Tucker Carlson is growing as the Fox News host refuses to apologize over resurfaced misogynistic remarks, including offensive comments about Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and a defense of statutory rape. Fox News hasn’t commented, but the network did condemn anti-Muslim remarks made by host Jeanine Pirro about Rep. Ilhan Omar. CNN
• Definitely not Theranos. If the phrase “blood testing startup” sets you on edge, well, you’re probably right to be cautious. But another founder—not Elizabeth Holmes—is taking on the challenge. Julia Cheek’s EveryWell is a direct-to-consumer blood testing service (without any of the lofty scientific goals that got Theranos into trouble). And Cheek says she’s the only one who gets the Theranos comparison, while a dozen other male founders in the field don’t. Inc.
ON MY RADAR
These 10 black women are changing the game Refinery29
The challenge of preserving the historical record of #MeToo The New Yorker
Captain Marvel has sixth-biggest debut of all time with $455 million opening weekend Fortune
What it’s like to go viral for ‘owning’ your husband in the New York Times The Cut