Humor In The Workplace: A Study of the Differences in the Use of Humor By Gender and Status

Gretchen L. Maier, The College of Wooster


The purpose of this thesis is to explore the uses of humor in the workplace, and the different uses it has for individuals of different genders and differing levels of status. I propose that humor can be used to one's benefit in the office if used properly; however, literature and theory on humor, status, and gender suggest that men and women and those of high and low status are not equally prepared to use humor effectively. To study these differences, I distributed questionnaires to 41 respondents in two companies, followed by 8 follow-up interviews. The results of previous studies found males to be more likely to be producers of humor while females are more likely to appreciate humor, hypotheses which were not confirmed in my analysis of data. Suggested differences by status also were not supported by my research. However, several other variables-including length of time in the company or position, and age-were found to have a significant effect on one's perception ofhumor. Further research is suggested to include the variables of race, marital status, sexual orientation, and tokenism.


© Copyright 1999 Gretchen L. Maier