17-Oct-2015 14:18

Are funny women intimidating

A few years ago, Laura Mickes was teaching her regular undergraduate class on childhood psychological disorders at the University of California, San Diego.It was a weighty subject, so occasionally she would inject a sarcastic comment about her own upbringing to lighten the mood.

Mickes realized that university students didn’t seem to welcome, or even notice, the wit of many of her female colleagues. A recent graphic made by Ben Schmidt, an assistant professor of history at Northeastern University, analyzed the words used to describe male and female professors across 14 million reviews on Rate My If men and women are clearly capable of being equally funny, why does humor by non-famous women so often go unappreciated?* * *In 2012, Mickes decided to see whether her student had a point.(Or rather, “I decided to redirect my anger into something productive,” as she described it.)A common way scientists measure funniness is by making undergrads—the typical guinea pigs for social-science research—play a version of The cartoons.On one hand, we live in the golden age of female comedy.Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Abbi Jacobson, Ilana Glazer, and their ilk certainly aren’t the first women to have wildly popular TV shows based entirely around their own funniness.

But they might be some of the first to do it with fearless jokes about their vaginas.

Next year, Amy Schumer will be the first female comedian to headline Madison Square Garden. On the other hand, happy hours during which one man holds forth to a gaggle of raptly amused female onlookers exist. My deftly hilarious female friends exist, and many are eternally single.

In every single discipline, male professors were far more likely than female ones to be described as funny.“I thought, ‘maybe I’m not that funny,’” Mickes said. I have a great time with my female friends.”Mickes’s story triggered the familiar shot/chaser of recognition and unease in me.

I come from the kind of family that deals with minor adversity by making relentless fun of the petty tyrants responsible.

(Major adversity, we smother in smoked meats.) Given three adjectives to describe me, most of my female friends would list “funny” as one of them.

But I maybe make a man laugh once every other month.

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