LINGUISTIC STRATEGIES AND POWER IN THE NARRATIVES OF WOMEN LEADERS IN A MALAYSIAN HIGHER LEARNING INSTITUTION

  • Narjes Karimi Universiti Malaya
  • Jariah Mohd Jan Universiti Malaya
Keywords: power, women leaders, language use, narrative, Malaysian Higher Learning Institution

Abstract

An important challenge for Malaysia today is to retain and attract more skilled and qualified women in the leadership positions. Because women account for more than half of Malaysia's population, gender diversity and inclusion strategies are required to help the country achieve high-developed status. The objective of this study is to investigate how women leaders in a Malaysian higher learning institution use language to exercise ‘power over’ their team members. Specifically, it explores the linguistic strategies used by women leaders in Malaysian higher education through their narratives. Using a qualitative research approach, the discursive features employed by these women are examined. The data were gathered through semi-structured interviews in which women leaders presented their conversation with their colleagues in face-to-face interactions, email exchanges or WhatsApp messages. The gathered data were transcribed and analysed through content analysis in light of Fairclough’s (2009) theory of power to provide insight into how and why these women leaders enact ‘power over’ through language use. The findings of this research revealed that women leaders use different linguistic strategies in a direct or mitigated way for several reasons such as to show personal power, hierarchy, strictness with deadlines, enactment of leadership, and to assert authority which would enact ‘power over’ to their colleagues in order to achieve their agenda. Further, there is a tendency for women leaders in higher learning institution to frequently use I-statement as a strategy to enact ‘power over’ colleagues.
Published
2022-03-31