This research is a study of talk in organisational settings. It analyses differences between the ways
in which men and women use language in real work settings.
this study aims to extend and explore the assertion that men and women talk differently at work.
The literature suggests that the ritual nature of men’s and women’s conversations is such that they
speak different languages that they assume are the same, using similar words to encode disparate
experiences of self and social relationships
Since, these languages share an overlapping vocabulary, they contain a propensity for systematic
mistranslation, creating impasses, which impede communication and limit the potential for
cooperation in decision, making and advancement
Interaction in the workplace is characterized by a unique constellation of constraints: an institutional structure
in which individuals are hierarchically ranked; a history of greater male participation in most work settings,
especially at the higher ranking levels; a still existing, though recently permeated pattern of participation
along gender lines; periodic external evaluation in the form of raises, promotions, task assignments, and
performance reviews; and a situation in which participants are required to interact regularly with others who
are neither kin nor chosen affiliates
Talk is at the heart of all organisations. Through it, the everyday business of organizations is accomplished
If talk is the lifeblood of all organisations (Boden, 1994), then, it both feeds into and is shaped by
the structure of the organisation itself.
Language plays a critical role in generating and propagating gendered identities and social patterns
in interaction. For example, it has been asserted in previous research, that the basic uses of
conversation by women are to establish and support intimacy; for men it is to establish status
(Tannen, 1994). It has also been found that that men tend to interrupt more and are more resistant
to asking questions (Tannen, 1994; Coates, 1996; Lackoff, 1990). These kinds of communication
differences can lead to misunderstanding and frustrations between the sexes and may ultimately
impact decision making.
The lens through which this paper is being viewed is one that clearly accepts that women are at a
disadvantage on entering organisations with a view to impending hierarchical advancement
(Catalyst, 2000; ILO, 1997; IBEC, 2002). It clearly recognizes that the existence of a glass ceiling
is a reality for most women, in most professions, across most cultures (Catalyst, 2000). It also
recognises that there is a difference between men’s and women’s roles at work; it is
unquestionable that vertical and horizontal job segregation is a workplace phenomenon
women have achieved higher levels of education than ever before and today represent 50 per cent
of the global workforce. Yet their representation in management positions remains unacceptably
slim, with only a minute proportion succeeding in breaking through the glass ceiling.
There is ample evidence in the literature to show that organizations typically cultivate speech