Women of the corporation: a sociolinguistic perspective of senior women’s leadership language in the UK

Judith Baxter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper reconceptualises a classic theory (Kanter 1993[1977]) on gender and leadership in order to provide fresh insights for both sociolinguistic and management thinking. Kanter claimed that there are four approved ‘role traps’ for women leaders in male-dominated organisations: Mother, Pet, Seductress and Iron Maiden, based on familiar historical archetypes of women in power. This paper reinterprets Kanter's construct of role traps in sociolinguistic terms as gendered, discursive resources that senior women utilise proactively to interact with their predominantly male colleagues. Based on a Research Council funded1 study of 14 senior leaders (seven female and seven male) each conducting at least one senior management meeting in the U.K., the paper finds that individual speakers can transform stereotyped subject positions into powerful discursive resources to accomplish the goals of leadership, albeit marked by gender.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-107
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Sociolinguistics
Volume16
Issue number1
Early online date21 Feb 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012

Keywords

  • gender stereotypes
  • gender
  • leadership
  • role traps
  • voice
  • agency
  • discursive resources
  • subject positions

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