Cacciatore Textual Analysis Introduction & Rationale

For my Organizational Textual Analysis Project I will examine gender communication in the workplace. The “text” that I will use in examining gendered communications is examples of email communications from women in the workplace and how their language undermines their authority.

Stuart Miles at Freedigitalphotos.net

Stuart Miles at Freedigitalphotos.net

Textual analysis is defined as the “a systematic analysis of the content rather than the structure of a communication, such as a written work, speech, or film, including the study of thematic and symbolic elements to determine the objective or meaning of the communication (The Free Dictionary).[1]” 

I will use the content analysis approach for analyzing the text and content of communications in the workplace, which contributes towards women being held back from executive leadership positions. I will do this by analyzing the content of written messages created by women and compare how the language used is typically viewed as passive. I will also evaluate the female negotiation tactics and tendency to avoid conflict as a reason for discrepancy in pay compared to male colleagues. I will evaluate the text of emails, journal articles, books and additional research to supplement my thesis, which is that the communication style of women in the workplace has contributed towards women receiving less pay and lower status in their careers.

Stuart Miles at Freedigitalphotos.net

Stuart Miles at Freedigitalphotos.net

I will reference Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, and examine the effect this book has had on women in the workplace. Specifically how Sheryl Sandberg encourages women to “lean in” to the challenges of the workplace and adopt the male communication style to be successful (Sandberg, 2013)[2].

Additionally, I will examine the book How to Say It For Women by examining the typical phrases women use in the workplace and how this positions them in an inferior role (Mindell, 2001)[3].

amazon.com

amazon.com

I will also use the research by Judith G. Oakley in the journal article Gender-based Barriers to Senior Management Positions: Understanding the Scarcity of Female CEOs that was published in Journal of Business Ethics. This article explores how the number of female CEOs has remained extremely low despite the rapid growth of women in the workplace. The author explores how this is due, in part, to the “old boy network” which is perpetuated with the female leadership style (Oakley, 2000)[4].

The reason I chose to write about women’s communication styles in the workplace is because even though women in the workforce has grown rapidly over the past 50 years, women still do not receive equal pay. While women in the workforce equated to only 34 percent in 1950, it reached 60 percent by 2000. By 2050 it’s expected that women will make up 48 percent of the workforce (Toossi, 2002, p. 15)[5]. This is a game changer and we’ll continue to see the affects of women in the workforce on organizational structure. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, women still only receive 78 cents for every $1.00 earned by men (National Committee on Pay Equity, 2012)[6] According to the Census statistics released September 17, 2013, there is a discrepancy of $11,607 in annual earnings between men and women. The median wages for men are $49,398, while women earn only $37,791 (National Committee on Pay Equity, 2012) [7]. I believe that a partial explanation for this discrepancy is the communication style women emulate. I will explore this further in my textual analysis.

Image courtesy of stockphoto on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockphoto on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is particular important to evaluate because the purpose is not to blame women for an inferior communications style, but evaluate why the preferred communication style is in the male form.

As I evaluate the text, I will examine specific examples of how women undermine their own power and credibility through their communication styles. One example is women’s use of emotional words, combined with starting sentences with the word I. For example, “I feel that we have too much work to do with the resources we have on the team.” Compared with, “The team cannot complete the work on schedule.” (Mindell, 2001)[8]. The first sentence is emotional and focuses on oneself while the second example focuses on the problem and uses an active voice.

Another example of how I will evaluate the text is how women are perceived as a “bitch” if they act too aggressively, but they are viewed as too passive if they don’t act authoritative enough. This is explored in Oakley’s journal article on gender equality in the workplace (Oakley, 2000)[9]. Women often face what Oakley calls “behavioral double binds” regarding their communication style in the workplace. Sandberg refers to this as well in her book Lean In, as she mentions that oftentimes women desire to be “liked” but oftentimes successful women in leadership positions aren’t “liked” but respected (Sandberg, 2013)[10].

stuart miles on freedigitalphotos.net

stuart miles on freedigitalphotos.net

I will explore these issues of gender-bias in the workplace through communication to support my thesis that the communication style of women in the workplace has contributed towards women receiving less pay and lower status in their careers.


[1] The Free Dictionary. Textual Analysis. Retrieved from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Textual+Analysis

[2] Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will To Lead. New York, NY: Random House.

[3] Mindell, P. (2001). How to Say It For Women: Communicating with Confidence and Power Using the Language of Success. New York: NY: Penguin Group.

[4] Oakley, J. (2000). Gender-based Barriers to Senior Management Positions: Understanding the Scarcity of Female CEOs. Journal of Business Ethics, 27(4) 321-334.

[5] [3] Toosi, Mitra (2002). A century of change: the U.S. labor force, 1950-2050. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2002/05/art2full.pdf

[6] National Committee on Pay Equity. (2013, October 11) Retrieved from http://www.pay-equity.org

[7] National Committee on Pay Equity. (2013, October 11) Retrieved from http://www.pay-equity.org

[8] Mindell, P. (2001). How to Say It For Women: Communicating with Confidence and Power Using the Language of Success. New York: NY: Penguin Group.

[9] Oakley, J. (2000). Gender-based Barriers to Senior Management Positions: Understanding the Scarcity of Female CEOs. Journal of Business Ethics, 27(4) 321-334.

[10] Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will To Lead. New York, NY: Random House.

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4 thoughts on “Cacciatore Textual Analysis Introduction & Rationale

  1. I love your topic choice Stacy. I’m interested in reading your analysis already. This is something I need to apply in my personal life and I’ve been wondering about lately; I’ve been told by my husband that I’m “too nice” when dealing with a certain individual and I feel (haha…there’s that passive language you’re talking about) that I’m not, so an exploration into male and female communication styles will be not only academically interesting but personally meaningful to me. I look forward to seeing your finished product!

    • Thanks so much Arwen! I can absolutely relate to what you are saying and that is part of why I’m researching this topic for my paper. I find that I apologize too much and use soft language when wanting others to “like” me, but I think that this is working against me in some respects. Thanks so much!

  2. Lean In has stimulated a renewed focus on gender and the workplace in popular literature. I am looking forward to your analysis, particularly on language that undermines authority in a male environment (or is it just in male environments?).

    You’ve made some compelling arguments on your blog about the direction of your research and the need for this type of analysis. Your topic lends itself well to ideological and gendered narrative exploration.

    I’m really excited to read your paper!

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