It turns out Christopher Hitchens was right. A new report finds that men are indeed funnier than women, as the pugilistic writer famously insisted in Vanity Fair a few years ago. The study pitted men and women against each other in a tournament-style funny-caption writing contest, and the guys triumphed. Fair enough! (Read more about the methodology here.) But the most interesting part to me was this tidbit of speculation on why men edged out women: They try more and they try harder. Where have we heard that before?
Newspaper op-eds: “Men are five times more likely to submit Op-Ed articles to outlets than women.”
Literary magazines: “All agree that men submit far more often than women, for whatever reasons. Even at magazines where the editors are female and that are known for publishing women writers, men submit more.”
The New Yorker caption contest: “Many more men enter the contest than women, and many more men enter regularly. Of our top ten überenterers, only one is a woman.”
Negotiations: “Men initiate negotiations about four times as often as women.”
Politics [PDF]: “Women, regardless of their age, partisan affiliation, income, and profession, are significantly less likely than men to express interest in seeking public office.”
In the humor study, the men barely edged out women, and they performed best in the view of other men. In fact, the results were close enough that lead researcher Laura Mickes said they can’t account for the overwhelming difference in perceptions of gender and humor: 90% of study participants said they believed that men are funnier than women.
But annoying stereotypes just can’t explain the whole problem when we read over and over that women aren’t putting themselves forward. Women, come on! Run for office! Make jokes, lots of them! Enter contests! Ask for raises! Submit op-eds and poems and short stories and novellas! Just do it!
Seriously, I say this as a person who makes a LOT of terrible jokes: It won’t kill you. And if it does, do me a favor and have a good punchline ready for your deathbed. Men are absolutely dominating us in that category, too.