When a potential job requires a ‘sense of humor’

Today, msnbc.com reports that you may need to have more than actual finance-related job skills to get a job in finance: according to a recent survey, you need a sense of humor too.  Of course, considering what sick, misogynistic shit boys and men are likely to find “funny,” girls and women should probably run far, far away from a workplace that requires a “sense of humor” from its workers.

Unfortunately, if these studies are accurate, women seeking employment in the financial sector may be able to run, but they may not be able to hide.  According to the study conducted by an independent research firm, some 80% of chief financial officers interviewed said that “an employee’s sense of humor is important for fitting into the company’s corporate culture.”


In the interview,

CFOs were asked, ‘How important is an employee’s sense of humor in him or her fitting into your company’s corporate culture?’  Their responses:

Very important 22%
Somewhat important 57%
Not at all important 20%
Don’t know/no answer 1%

‘Sometimes, a little levity goes a long way toward building rapport among colleagues and diffusing workplace tension,’ said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author.  ‘All work and no play can erode employee morale.’

Okay, well, nobody likes a stick-in-the-mud, am I right?

But in case you are wondering what they mean by “sense of humor” or how they decided who to ask, or what this all means, they describe their method here:

The national study […] was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CFOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees. For the study to be statistically representative and ensure that companies from all segments are represented, the sample was stratified by geographic region and number of employees. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper proportion of employees within each region.

They don’t say how many officers surveyed were women and how many were men, but I’m guessing they were mostly men.  It’s an educated guess.  As of June, 2011, CFO magazine reported that only 9% of CFOs of Fortune 500 companies were women, meaning that 91% were men.  Ninety-one percent.

And generally speaking,CFO magazine reports that

Although women make up 56% of undergraduate accounting majors and almost 62% of accountants and auditors, they rarely make it to high-level finance roles like treasurer, controller, or CFO.

But more to the point, what do these CFOs mean when they talk about levity, and senses of humor?  And who is to say what’s “funny” and what’s not?

Europe’s Journal of Psychology published an interesting paper entitled “A Framework for Thinking about the (not-so-funny) Effects of Sexist Humor.”  In it, the researchers cite prior research revealing that “men view sexist humor as funnier and less offensive than women view it.”  Meaning that if the jokes are woman-hating, women as a class are predisposed to find them unfunny.  And in a workplace where woman-hating jokes are pervasive, women’s senses of humor will generally be found to be lacking.

From the paper:

In the context of sexist humor, […] for both men and women, appreciation of sexist cartoons was negatively related to the extent to which participants endorsed women’s liberation ideology. Research that more directly measured attitudes toward women has revealed similar results. Regardless of sex, people enjoy sexist humor insofar as they have negative (sexist) attitudes toward women.

Meaning, the more misogynistic you are, whether you are male or female, the “funnier” you will think woman-hating jokes are.  You know, the better sense of humor you have, when it comes to people making misogynistic jokes at work.  And not being an ikky old stick in the mud, and messing up their hi-larious “corporate culture” of knee-slappin’ misogyny.

And this was revealing too:

[Prior research has] suggested that hostile sexism is understood within a context of a backlash against feminism. Thus, we propose that women high in hostile sexism particularly disidentify with feminists. If women high in hostile sexism particularly disidentify with feminists, they should be more likely to accept sexist humor that disparages feminists than humor that disparages women in general or other ―non-norm challenging sub-groups of women (e.g., blondes, housewives). […]  In keeping with this hypothesis, preliminary data we recently collected revealed a stronger negative relationship between women’s level of hostile sexism and identification with feminists than with women in general. Further, the positive relationship between hostile sexism and amusement ratings for feminist jokes was stronger than the relationship between hostile sexism and ratings of sexist jokes that targeted women in general.

The more misogynistic you are, the more you hate feminists, and the more likely you are to think that misogynistic jokes about feminists in particular are funny.  Even funnier than misogynistic jokes about regular women, which are also funny.

And now, if we were to analyze these studies in aggregate, and there’s no obvious reason not to, we might conclude the following:

If a woman is applying for a job with one of the 80% of employers in the financial sector that values a sense of humor, and that employer’s corporate culture also includes woman-hating jokes, then that woman is predisposed to be a poor employee because of her sex.  And if for some reason they hire her anyway, she will prosper there to the extent that she appreciates their humor, which she will if she is woman-hating and does not identify with feminists.

And this certainly suggests, doesn’t it, that in an environment like that, if you do identify with feminists — or if you are one — you need not even apply.

How one is expected to communicate during the interview that one does not identify with feminists, and does not endorse women’s liberation ideology, is what I want to know, but I’m afraid to ask.

And of course, this is all very stupid, isn’t it, considering that feminists and radical feminists are totally hilarious, and have the most fun and the funnest and funniest conversations anywhere on either the internet or in real life.  Oh yes, they do.