Women hold few leadership roles in the workplace, and even though research indicates the positive benefits of more women in top positions, leadership has a longstanding association with masculine qualities. If a woman seeks a position of power, she may find herself negotiating between a conflicting "woman" identity and "leader" role performance. Previous literature on the subject offers two opposing perspectives. While the first school of thought emphasizes the importance of a woman assuming masculine characteristics to successfully assume leadership positions, a second body of research points to gender equality in leadership by driving industries and organizations to change. The current study seeks to determine what kinds of face threats to identity that women leaders encounter in the workplace, how women leaders use impression management to negotiate conflicts between a "woman" identity and a "leader" role performance, and the kinds of facework utilized to manage those face threats. Qualitative semi-structured interviews with 15 women in leadership positions in the southeast United States revealed participants encountered numerous face threats to identity including positive and negative face threats to their face as hearer, positive face threats to their face as speaker, and the enhancement of negative face by others – especially by mentors. Additionally, participants utilized impression management by assuming a masculine gender performance as well as many backstage behaviors, including strategic preparation and planning, in order to be successful. Corrective facework strategies included avoidance and, conversely, direct confrontation.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Communication; Interpersonal Communications
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Rister, Alex, "Women With Influence: Creating A Powerful Woman Leader Identity Through Impression Management" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 5207.