There are many reasons to explain why female leaders continue to be significantly under-represented in the workplace - legal, economic and sociological.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) survey (2008) shows that only 11% of FTSE 100 directors in the UK are women, and indeed, this feature is true across all professions. One possible reason for the lack of female leaders in the business world is socio-linguistic. That is, women may simply have a harder job than men to be effective through their talk: to be listened to, included in key decisions, taken seriously, and to influence the views of others effectively.
'Effective' and 'less effective' interactions
This ESRC-funded study seeks specific answers about what constitutes 'effective' and 'less effective' interactions within business meeting settings, and whether ‘effectiveness’ is related to gender. This is an ethnographic study of real meetings in a number of multinational companies using observation, interviews and documentary analysis. We hope that the research will heighten awareness and change practices in management meetings so that both senior men and women know how to use really effective leadership language that inspires, motivates and supports their colleagues.
Working with organisations
Commenting on the project, Judith Baxter said: ‘This project has created a lot of interest in local and national companies. Many large multinationals are aware that women leaders are essential to creating diverse and productive business communities and they want to know how effective linguistic interactions contribute to that process. We report back to participating companies about best practice at senior management level, and advise them about how things might be done better in order to get the most out of talented women and men. We hope to devise a typology of ‘effective leadership language’ which reflects the insights we have gained on gender and cultural context.’
Contact Dr Judith Baxter (primary investigator) on email: firstname.lastname@example.org 0121 204 3399
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