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Gendered discourse in practice: an exploration of language and professional identity in managers in the further education sector

Gendered discourse in practice: an exploration of language and professional identity in managers in the further education sector
Gendered discourse in practice: an exploration of language and professional identity in managers in the further education sector
One of the most enduring issues in the area of women and management is the concept of the glass ceiling. This thesis explores whether there is still a persistence of attitudes that place women in an antithetical position to executive power, by examining how men and women construct their professional identities or representations of themselves as managers through their discourse. The research considers whether women use language differently in carrying out their management tasks, i.e., in ways that reflect their feminine social identities. Further, the study focusses on determining whether some women disqualify themselves from senior management posts by the way in which they construct their identities. The assumption underpinning the thesis is that the discourse used by managers to create their professional identities presents clues to the values, attitudes and beliefs of managers within the organisation, a further education college.

Analysis of the data revealed evidence for three main gendered discourses at play in the further education college under discussion: (1) some women downplay their authority; (2) they prefer a collaborative, team-based approach to management; and (3) they make reference to differentiating their management behaviours to demonstrate care and concern for individual circumstances.

There is evidence that some women bring valuable skills to the workplace, particularly in the areas of a potential people-focussed, supportive style that nurtures and develops staff, as well as their emotional literacy and sensitivity to the face needs of others. However, the deferential demeanour and use of mitigating language can make some women appear to be hesitant, unsure and sometimes unclear as managers; the performative identity constructed through this type of discourse is potentially one of uncertainty, and this demeanour could conceivably disadvantage some women in terms of advancement or promotion.

While the findings may not be fully transferable to other contexts, the study makes an empirical contribution to knowledge in offering the conclusions as relevant material to inform the conceptualisation of management development programmes and to develop existing managers in the further education sector.
Lueddeke, Jill
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Lueddeke, Jill
2cd92490-8d28-4278-aa3d-baa00603da62
Lumby, Jacky
83299e7c-1819-47aa-8971-76f4a7a62bb5

Lueddeke, Jill (2014) Gendered discourse in practice: an exploration of language and professional identity in managers in the further education sector. University of Southampton, Southampton Education School, Doctoral Thesis, 205pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

One of the most enduring issues in the area of women and management is the concept of the glass ceiling. This thesis explores whether there is still a persistence of attitudes that place women in an antithetical position to executive power, by examining how men and women construct their professional identities or representations of themselves as managers through their discourse. The research considers whether women use language differently in carrying out their management tasks, i.e., in ways that reflect their feminine social identities. Further, the study focusses on determining whether some women disqualify themselves from senior management posts by the way in which they construct their identities. The assumption underpinning the thesis is that the discourse used by managers to create their professional identities presents clues to the values, attitudes and beliefs of managers within the organisation, a further education college.

Analysis of the data revealed evidence for three main gendered discourses at play in the further education college under discussion: (1) some women downplay their authority; (2) they prefer a collaborative, team-based approach to management; and (3) they make reference to differentiating their management behaviours to demonstrate care and concern for individual circumstances.

There is evidence that some women bring valuable skills to the workplace, particularly in the areas of a potential people-focussed, supportive style that nurtures and develops staff, as well as their emotional literacy and sensitivity to the face needs of others. However, the deferential demeanour and use of mitigating language can make some women appear to be hesitant, unsure and sometimes unclear as managers; the performative identity constructed through this type of discourse is potentially one of uncertainty, and this demeanour could conceivably disadvantage some women in terms of advancement or promotion.

While the findings may not be fully transferable to other contexts, the study makes an empirical contribution to knowledge in offering the conclusions as relevant material to inform the conceptualisation of management development programmes and to develop existing managers in the further education sector.

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Published date: August 2014
Organisations: University of Southampton, Southampton Education School

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 369992
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/369992
PURE UUID: 156db137-40ec-463a-86f9-d864fa1c34b6

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Date deposited: 27 Oct 2014 12:39
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 21:53

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