‘It’s a blokes’ thing’: Gender, Occupational Roles and Talk in the Workplace

  • Susan McRae


This chapter explores the link between gender, occupational roles and relative status in spoken interaction in the workplace. The analysis is based on extracts from business meetings where disagreement occurs between speakers, and focuses on key methodological issues concerning the interpretative process. More specifically, the discussion considers whether gender is relevant to the interpretation of the talk. To this end, two different analytical approaches are applied — a strict Conversational Analytical (CA) approach that relies solely on transcripts of the data to interpret the meaning of the interaction, combined with an analysis that draws on wider interpretative resources, such as participant feedback, information about the companies the participants work for, observation and employment statistics.


Occupational Role Gender Research Workplace Practice Speech Style Interpretative Repertoire 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baxter, Judith (2003) Positioning Gender in Discourse: A Feminist Methodology. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bergvall, Victoria, Bing, Janet and Freed, Alice (eds.) (1996) Rethinking Language and Gender Research: Theory and Practice. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  3. Butler, Judith (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Cameron, Deborah (1997) Performing gender identity: young men’s talk and the construction of heterosexual masculinity. In Johnson, S. and Meinhof, U.H. (eds.) Language and Masculinity. Oxford: Blackwell. 47–64.Google Scholar
  5. Cameron, Deborah (2000) Good to Talk? London: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Chouliaraki, Lillie and Fairclough, Norman (1999) Discourse in Late Modernity: Rethinking Critical Discourse Analysis. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Coates, Jennifer (1995) Language, gender and career. In Mills, S. (ed.) Language and Gender: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. London: Longman. 13–30.Google Scholar
  8. Crawford, Mary (1995) Talking Difference: On Gender and Language. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  9. Equal Opportunities Commission. (accessed 18/07/07).
  10. Fairclough, Norman (1994) Conversationalization of public discourse and the authority of the consumer. In Keat, R., Whiteley, N., and Abercrombie, N. (eds.) The Authority of the Consumer. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Fairclough, Norman (1996) Border crossings: discourse and social change in contemporary societies. In Coleman, H. and Cameron, L. (eds.) Change and Language, BAAL 10, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 3–17.Google Scholar
  12. Gee, James, Hull, Glynda, and Lankshear, Colin (1996) The New Work Order: Behind the Language of the New Capitalism. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  13. Hall, Kira (1995) Lip service on the fantasy lines. In Hall, K. and Bucholtz, M. (eds.) Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed Self. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Holmes, Janet (2006) Gendered Talk at Work. Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Holmes, Janet and Stubbe, Maria (2003) ‘Feminine’ workplaces: stereotype and reality. In Holmes, J. and Meyerhoff, M. (eds.) The Handbook of Language and Gender. Oxford: Blackwell, 573–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Iedema, Rick and Scheeres, Hermine (2003) From doing work to talking work: renegotiating knowing, doing, and identity. Applied Linguistics 24 (3): 316–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Johnson, Sally and Meinhof, Ulrike (eds.) (1997) Language and Masculinity. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  18. Kendall, Shari and Tannen, Deborah (1997) Gender and language in the work-place. In Wodak, R. (ed.) Gender and Discourse. London: Sage. 81–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kitzinger, Celia (2002) Doing feminist conversation analysis. In McIvenny, P. (ed.) Talking Gender and Sexuality. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 49–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lakoff, Robin (2003) Language, Gender and Politics: Putting ‘Women’ and ‘Power’ in the same sentence. In Holmes, J. and Meyerhoff, M. (eds.) The Handbook of Language and Gender. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  21. McConnell-Ginet, Sally (2000) Breaking through the ‘glass ceiling’. In Holmes, J. (ed.) Gendered Speech in Social Context. Wellington NZ: Victoria University Press. 259–82.Google Scholar
  22. McRae, Susan (2004) Language, Gender and Status in the Workplace: The Discourse of Disagreement in Meetings. The Open University: Milton Keynes, unpublished Ph.D. thesis.Google Scholar
  23. McRae, Susan and Swann, Joan (2006) Putting on the style. In Maybin, J. and Swann, J. (eds.) The Art of English: Everyday Creativity. Palgrave Macmillan in association with the Open University: Basingstoke and Milton Keynes. 103–56.Google Scholar
  24. Ochs, Elinor (1992) Indexing gender. In Duranti, A. and Goodwin, C. (eds.) Rethinking Context: Language as an Interactive Phenomenon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 335–58.Google Scholar
  25. Roberts, Celia (2003) Applied linguistics applied. In Sarangi, S. and van Leeuwen, T. (eds.) Applied Linguistics and Communities of Practice. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  26. Schegloff, Emanuel (1997) Whose text? Whose context? Discourse &Society 8 (2): 165–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sheldon, Amy (1996) ‘You can be the baby brother, but you aren’t born yet’: preschool girls’ negotiation for power and access in pretend play. Research on Language and Social Interaction 29 (1): 57–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Simpson, Alyson (1997) ‘It’s a game!’: the construction of gendered subjectivity. In Wodak, R. (ed.) Gender and Discourse. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  29. Stokoe, Elizabeth (1998) Talking about gender: the conversational construction of gender categories in academic discourse. Discourse &Society 9 (2): 217–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Stokoe, Elizabeth and Smithson, Janet (2001) Making gender relevant: conversation analysis and gender categories in interaction. Discourse &Society 12 (2): 217–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Swann, Joan and Graddol, David (1995) Feminising classroom talk? In Mills, S. (ed.) Language and Gender, Interdisciplinary Perspectives. London: Longman. 135–48.Google Scholar
  32. van Vree, Wilbert (1999) Meetings, Manners and Civilization: the Development of Modern Meeting Behaviour. London and New York: Leicester University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Weatherall, Ann (2000) Gender relevance in talk-in-interaction and discourse. Discourse &Society11 (2): 286–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wetherell, Margaret (1998) Positioning and interpretative repertoires: conversation analysis and post-structuralism in dialogue. Discourse &Society 9 (3): 387–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wetherell, Margaret and Maybin, Janet (1996) The distributed self: a social constructionist perspective. In Stevens, R. (ed.) Understanding the Self London: Sage. 219–80.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Susan McRae 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan McRae

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations