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Opportunities and constraints in conducting ESRC research on gender and language in the public space . Dr Judith Baxter, Aston University; j.a.baxter@aston.ac.uk. Aims of talk. Brief review of the research study and its findings Opportunities of the funded study Constraints and compromises

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Opportunities and constraints in conducting ESRC research on gender and language in the public space.

Dr Judith Baxter, Aston University; j.a.baxter@aston.ac.uk

aims of talk
Aims of talk
  • Brief review of the research study and its findings
  • Opportunities of the funded study
  • Constraints and compromises
  • Possibilities for future funding
  • Lessons learnt from Research Council funded research: is it worth it?
esrc criteria of assessment
ESRC criteria of assessment
  • Originality; potential contribution to knowledge
  • Research design and methodology
  • Value for money
  • Outputs, dissemination and Impact

(ESRC Funding Guide, June 2011, p.22)

women business leaders in the uk
Women business leaders in the UK
  • 12.5% of FTSE100 board directors in the UK are women (The Female FTSE 100 Board Report : Vinnicombe Sealy, Graham and Doldor, 2010)
research questions
Research questions
  • Is the use of language a reason why there is a lack of women at senior management level?
  • What counts as ‘effective’ leadership language and is this gendered?
esrc research project
ESRC research project
  • ‘Leadership Talk and Gender in Senior Management Business Meetings in the UK’. £85,000; January1st 2010 until May 2011.
methodology
Methodology
  • Semi-ethnographic: ‘being there’: spending quality time in companies; qualitative research methods
  • Case study approach:

7 national and multi-national plc companies from various sectors:

  • Mining
  • Insurance
  • Engineering
  • Leisure
  • Postal Services
  • Tobacco
  • 1 male and 1 female SM of equivalent status per company (company director, board director)
methodology1
Methodology
  • Data collection:
    • Observation:
    • Interviews:
    • Documentary evidence:
  • Data analysis:
    • Grounded theory/models of discourse analysis:
      • Micro-level: Interactional sociolinguistics
      • Macro-level : Corpus linguistics: FPDA
  • Impact: feedback reports:
    • 5-week turnaround
provisional findings
Provisional findings
  • Women and men leaders positioned differently and unequally within gendered, corporate discourses
  • Multiple ‘selves’ and identities which shift between competing discourses.
  • Indicators of what constitutes leadership linguistic ‘effectiveness’ at micro, medio and macro and in what way gendered.
  • Archetypal subject positions used as discursive resources (Baxter 2012)
double voiced discourse
Double-voiced discourse
  • “If you can’t see [the powerpoint] and you’re too far away come down and stand or squint (.) err I think really this is the top-line level structure that you will have seen and some of the questions and I thought thoughts that might be in your minds is (.) err what’s going to be the role of the Deputy Group HR Director it was certainly one that was in mine so err I’ll pose and answer it as best I can for you guys”
opportunities of the esrc grant
Opportunities of the ESRC grant
  • Time out
  • Entering another world
  • Acquiring new skills and expertise
  • Working with a Research Assistant (RA)
  • Offering status
constraints and compromises
Constraints and compromises
  • Practical problems: ‘the course of true [research] never did run smooth…’
  • The scope of research too ambitious?
  • Diverging expectations in terms of impact:
    • End users: senior managers
    • The media
    • ESRC
possibilities for future funding
Possibilities for future funding
  • Greater institutional depth: e.g.
  • Comparing different CofPs within a single organisation: HR, Finance, IT, Operations, etc
  • Comparing the same department across different organisations
  • Collaborations: e.g.
  • Working with organisation theorists
  • Working with interculturalists
  • Working cross-institutionally; internationally
lessons learnt jb and ss
Lessons learnt? JB and SS
  • Ask a ‘real’ social question
  • Find a niche and expand on it
  • Be different and original in the choice of topic, angle upon it, and use of research design and methodology
  • Propose a realistic and achievable scope for the Project: is it do-able?
references
References

Baxter, J. (2012: in press) ‘Women of the Corporation: a sociolinguistic perspective of senior women’s leadership language in the UK.’ Journal of Sociolinguistics, 16,1: pp.___

Baxter, J.( 2011) ‘Survival or success?: A critical exploration of the use of ‘double-voiced discourse’ by women business leaders in the UK.’ Discourse and Communication, 231 -246, 2011.

references contd
References contd

Bakhtin, M. (1929/1981) ‘Discourse in the Novel’ in The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. TX: University of Texas

Sealy, R., Vinnicombe, S. and Doldor, E. (2009),The Female FTSE Board Report 2009: Norway and Spain join our census to benchmark corporate boards, Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield, UK

http://www.esrc.ac.uk/funding-and-guidance/guidance/applicants/how-to.aspx