Gender(ed) performances: Women’s impression management in stand-up comedy

Clare Cook, Jamie Callahan*, Thomas Pollet, Carole Elliott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


How do women navigate and make space for themselves in workspaces where they are not perceived to fit? Women in male dominated careers often face perceptions of role misfit, leading them to engage in impression management. Using a mixed-methods design, we investigate if women stand-up comedians present as female gendered at work in two settings - one dominated by male performers (N = 257) and one featuring more gender diverse performers (N = 843). Women, as compared to men, presented more gendered in the more gender diverse performer setting and less gendered in the male performer dominated setting. Using Lorber’s taxonomy of feminisms as a lens, assessment of how women presented their gender further implied greater constraint on women in the male dominated, compared to the diverse, setting. Our findings support Roberts’ theory of social-identity based impression management (SIM) in the novel context of stand-up comedy, refine the theory by presenting a fifth SIM strategy and demonstrate how women are able to adapt their feminism to the characteristics of the situation, thus helping secure their position in settings where they may be unwelcomed. These findings have theoretical implications for impression management and feminism, and practical implications for workplace equality initiatives.
Original languageEnglish
Article number001872672211379
Pages (from-to)455-590
Number of pages27
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number4
Early online date27 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024


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