Gender and Language, Vol 5, No 2 (2011)

Leadership in Hong Kong. Is gender really not an issue?

Stephanie Schnurr, Bernie Mak
Issued Date: 20 Dec 2011

Abstract


Although gender is an important issue in many Asian countries where women often face serious discriminatory practices, this topic is notoriously under-researched from a socio-linguistic perspective. We aim to address this issue by conducting an in-depth case study of leadership and gender in Hong Kong. Drawing on more than 30 hours of authentic workplace discourse and a sample of representative emails, we explore how a successful female leader does leadership and how she enacts her gender identity in ways that reflect and respond to the overall masculine culture of her workplace and the socio-cultural context of Hong Kong. Our findings illustrate that in addition to considering the socio-cultural context, workplace culture and the norms of communities of practice, the specific interactional context is also of crucial importance for an understanding of how leadership and gender are performed. We conclude that in contrast to general perceptions, gender is indeed an issue in the professional domain in Hong Kong, and is reflected not only in leadership discourse but also in the gendered and often discriminatory practices that are still prevalent in many workplaces.

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DOI: 10.1558/genl.v5i2.343

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