Cacciatore Textual Analysis – Gendered Communications in the Workplace

Full paper – Gendered Communications in the Workplace by Stacy Cacciatore

This textual analysis will explore the hegemony ideological control of women in the workplace by conducting a content analysis, which will compare and contrast female and male written business communications. I will investigate four questions:

  • What is the ideology structure behind the preferred style for business communications?
  • Do the written communication styles of men and women differ?
  • How do the communication styles of men and women differ?
  • Why do men and women differ in communication style?

My thesis is that men and women differ in communication style and the ideology of the social reality is that the feminine style of communication is weak. This less powerful communication style undermines women’s power and credibility, resulting in less pay and lower status in their careers. However, the feminine communication style is deemed as weak by men and this has created a hegemony ideological control.

Please watch my presentation for the results of my textual analysis. Do you agree with my thesis? Do you think that women emmulate a less powerful communication style in the workplace? Do you agree with what I concluded on why this is and the implications if something doesn’t change? I look forward to hearing from you!

 

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4 thoughts on “Cacciatore Textual Analysis – Gendered Communications in the Workplace

  1. Very interesting topic!

    I frequently feel that I need to be extra cautious about the language that I choose to communicate for fear of being perceived as “weak” or “bitchy”. I have noticed that I tend to over-correct resulting in my communication style being verbose and apologetic when in reality I am more of a straight talker.

    Gender differences in the ways that we communicate are clearly evident and do hinder our opportunities for advancement. But, not all of the negative reactions come from the opposite sex. Several weeks ago my father was hospitalized and during his stay I got to interact and observe many of the nurses that were caring for him. The majority of them were very nurturing and “motherly”. Very quickly, I decided that I really liked nurse “Holly” because of her super nurturing attitude. In discussing with my father how “good” of a nurse Holly was, he shared with me that his favorite nurse was “John”, a male nurse, because he was clear and concise about what he needed to do; he did it and that was it. Whereas Holly had a conversation about how she felt about the weather, how he looked, what was on the news, etc. My father also founded interesting that she would frequently apologized for having to do the required and expected tasks of a nurse.

    It wasn’t until my father said that I liked Holly because she was treating him like I treated my children that it became obvious to me that I was perpetuating the female stereotype of women as nurturers. Unconsciously, I interpreted Holly to be better because she exemplified behavior that is similar to my own. This situation serves as an example to support your thesis in that women engage in ritual apologies; are much more verbose and frequently address situations with feelings or “I” statements.

    Although your research focused on organizational communication, the findings and implications apply to personal relationships between men and women. How many times have you sent a detailed message to the man in your life only to receive a reply of “ok”? Oftentimes this type of response leaves me wondering whether or not he even got the point of the message. Will he know what he needs to? Probably not because I have overwhelmed him with the all of the details of the message.

    So, even though there is no magical equation provided to help us solve this dilemma (I know it’s not your fault :), your presentation will serve as a reminder that I need to be more aware of my communication style. Tailoring the message to the receiver (male or female) might help neutralize some of the gender perceptions so that I can feel more comfortable speaking the truth authentically.

    Excellent job!

  2. I laughed out loud when I saw the text of Email 1 (58 words) and the text of Email 2 (5 words). That five-word email really illustrates the challenge of verbosity and ritual apology in female communication. I’m glad that you led the argument with the idea that this devaluing of female communication styles is hegemonic. There are global cultures that place great value on apology and verbosity; the only reason this is a “problem” is the hegemony of communication ideals in the workplace.

    In my analysis, I use Acker’s (1990) five processes that form male-gendered organizations (as cited in Eisenberg, Goodall Jr., & Trethewey, 2010) as a template to imagine what a female-gendered organization would look like. In this model, female communication styles are not only valued, but they are considered powerful.

    Your point is well-taken that there is an urgency for women to give consideration to their professional communication style. Regardless of the “rightness” of the (de)valuing of gendered communication styles, professional success may depend on adopting a more “powerful” style. The book “The Athena Doctrine” (2012) gives me great hope that we are seeing a shift in the valuing of female communication styles (as cited in Buchanan, 2012). A global study of leadership traits revealed that most people, regardless of culture, view traditionally feminine traits (empathy,patience, expressiveness, intuition, flexibility) are now considered to be simply effective leadership skills.

    We may yet see a more balanced approach to professional communication, though I will say, regardless of gender, why take 58 words to say what 5 words can communicate?

    Great job!

    Buchanan, L. (June, 2013). Between Venus and Mars: Traits of true leaders. Inc.com. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/magazine/201306/leigh-buchanan/traits-of-true-leaders.html

    Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall, Jr., H. L., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint. (6thh ed.). Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

  3. Stacy,
    Like Angela, I actually laughed aloud when you showed the male sender’s 5-word email after the female sender’s 58-word email. What an impactful example of the differences in gender communications.

    First of all, ritual apologies make me crazy. I don’t do it. I had an employee at the coffee shop who apologized for everything, even things she didn’t do or had no control over. I had to have multiple sit down chats with her about cutting “sorry” from her vocabulary. I never wanted her to be perceived as weak because in retail, you’re like shark bait. I had to train her different strategies to use in customer service that would keep her in control of any situation. I hope she still uses those strategies today and has cut excessive apologizing from her word choices.

    Second, I myself think that I’ve been lucky with my verbosity in the workplace. People love receiving my emails (most of the time) and sending company-wide emails are now a part of my job description. I have learned, though, that if I want people to read emails in their entirety then I’d damn well better keep it brief and put an actual call to action in the subject if action is required. I love words and I love writing, and it annoys me to no end that wordiness is viewed as weak.

    Third, the idea that there should be “no feelings in the workplace” is unfortunate. It seems to me to be a complete 180 from the human relations/human resources lens which reminds us that employees are living, thinking beings. These beings have feelings, and those feelings shouldn’t be suppressed at work just because they don’t fit with the macho-man attitude that’s been pervasive within organizations.

    Excellent analysis and presentation, Stacy. I enjoyed it immensely and it’s given me much to consider for the future!

  4. Hello Stacy,

    Wow…while your findings make perfect sense, I guess most of us never thought of the communication differences between men and women in those terms, until you pointed them out. I’m not surprised at all by what you’ve uncovered, but it is unfortunate that as women, we feel the need to apologize regularly, and as men it just seems as though it’s all taken in stride. Rather than that being an innate trait for women, I’m sure that comes from something that we’re taught from a very early age. And on the contrary, should we be the ones to send or respond with a short and to the point email, it might seem to appear as “bitchy” or as if we were in a bad mood. I know I’m guilty of sending verbose emails myself, on a regular basis…with a goal of trying to make sure that my request and/or instrucations are perfectly understood. I think men are more inclined to have the attitude of “figure it out”…and just provide the highlight points.

    A great future study might be to compare emails of those women who are in “power” positions, with those in subordinate positions, to see if there is a great difference in length and/or tone. I wonder if women who have been promoted up the ranks have adopted a different approach to communicating, particularly via email or memo-type format. Or, perhaps the findings might uncover that the women in power positions were always concise communicators, thus this might just be a characteristic of someone who is inclined to be in a power position?

    As to your presentation, you did a great job outlining your findings and conclusions in as concise a way as possible. I had a lot of trouble with this myself (which I’m sure refers back to what I mentioned earlier…my concern for being unclear, which enables me to include too much info).

    Awesome job….great way to end the course as well as the semester.
    Dawn

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