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EEO. 2021; 20(4): 3151-3161

Discursive Construction of Professional Identity - A Gender based Analysis of Workplace Meetings

Atia Anwer Zoon, Dr. Nighat Ashfaq.


This article explores the construction of professional identity through discursive analysis of workplace meetings. The study draws upon method of discourse analysis in order to analyze the leadership styles employed by two female and two male heads of department who run meetings as chairs. The study is theoretically grounded in Judith Butler’s (1990) theory of gender performativity and West and Zimmerman’s (1987) concept of ‘doing gender’ The key focus of the analysis is the discursive strategies and discourse features employed by male and female meeting chairs for ‘doing leadership’ and ‘performing’ professional roles discursively. The analysis highlights that one male and one female chair display gender congruent leadership styles by employing stereotypical discourse features which conform to traditional gendered expectations. However, the other two chairs(one male and one female) display gender incongruent leadership styles by employing features of discourse which are normatively not associated with their particular gender. On the basis of data analysis it is concluded that male and female managers display a variety of leadership styles and construct their professional identity in dynamic ways. On the basis of data analysis it is also argued that some male and female leader reproduce and reinforce the normative patterns of doing leadership by using discourse features which conform to the normative expectations whereas some male and female leaders employ discursive features which do not conform to the normative associations. Hence the study concludes that their dynamic use of language not only contests the prevailing gender norms but also redefines and transforms the normative gendered expectations.

Key words: leadership styles, identity construction, discursive approach, workplace meetings, performativity theory

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