Used by the US government to motivate millions of women to go to work, Ford Motor Company claims to have had the real “Rosie the Riveter” working for their company (Ford, 2003). Ford labels Rose Will Monroe, a riveter at the Ford Willow Run airplane factory, as the person used to represent the icon for working women by starring in a film campaign to increase the sale of war bonds. The icon soon changed into what many people know today as an empowering inspirational image for women across the country. Housewives, mothers, daughters, and sisters rolled up their sleeves, pulled their hair back with a bandana, and answered the call to action. “In 1944, some nineteen million women were employed and among those, five million were new to the labor force” (Friedman, 2005, p. 63-64). These women went to work in the various factories and organizations during WWII to support the troops and keep the nation afloat.
Traditionally, men worked labor intensive jobs like riveters and miners. At that time, organizations operated in a masculine and hierarchical, or top-down view, style of communicating. Due to the war, there were many vacancies in the workplace and women were needed to fill those positions. The women had to work jobs they did not traditionally hold. They had to be schooled and trained in order to accomplish tasks the U.S. never imaged a woman performing. Sending a woman to do a “man’s job” brought about several affects to the way organizations operated from then on. When women entered the workforce, they brought a change in the style of communication used by the organizations. A new style of communication labeled feminine communication emerged and is found in many contemporary organizations today. An “open door” policy held by management is a one example of how some organizations, such as Wal-mart or Target, try to operate under feminine communication styles with its employees.
This analysis examines narratives from women who worked in the various organizations during WWII which reveals a culture where feminine communication emerged. This paper is not attempting to analyze the texts to find the origin or where feminine communication stems from. I am looking for the presence of feminine communication styles in the workplace. As well, this paper is not set out to argue feminine communication replaced masculine communication in the workplace. These two types of communication are different styles in which organizations could operate. The emergence of feminine communication in organizations can be observed by analyzing the texts and artifacts collected from women who worked in the various organizations of WWII through the method of organizational symbolism approach.
There are several reasons why this topic and study are relevant to organizations, academic scholars, and a graduating student like me. This analysis has the potential and possibility of direct application to contemporary organizations. Organizations are filled with women and feminine communication throughout all levels of the corporation which have a great deal of affect on an organization. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Labor reported forty-six percent of the total U.S. labor force was comprised of women (Quick Stats 2005). An organization that is unable to effectively and efficiently communicate with its employees or customers, whether they operate in a masculine or feminine style of communication, will not be as successful as those organizations that do. As well, an organization that is driven by the goals of feminine communication will have much different needs and desires than that of masculine communication.
The analysis of these texts and artifacts are beneficial to scholars and students interested in gender communication, the history of U.S. industries, or organizational related studies such as management or business. Based on the analysis, there is an opportunity to further support theories of gender communication. The style of feminine communication is strengthened from the evidence found in the texts and artifacts analyzed. The examples found in the texts and artifacts covering life in the organizations during WWII can be compared to current organizations to confirm the use of feminine communication in organizations. These commonalities found between WWII and current day organizations reinforce the academic importance of exploring and understanding the feminine communication style.
This study also acts as an example of the organizational symbolism approach for organizational culture, which is one method from which to analyze organizations. Clearing identifying how the approach uses symbols to explain the culture will strengthen the method’s practicality. Using this approach for the analysis will help apply it in a range of environments. For example, a new individual entering a different culture could employ organizational symbolism as a method to understand the unknown culture.
In addition, the analysis provides the reader with a historical review which can signal to organizational leaders or academic scholars the possibility of a route to predict future events. This is not a social scientific study that aims to predict future events with precision, but it provides a basis on which people could make informed decisions. These decisions might affect how they operate their organization or which method someone may choose to study it.
Finally, I am interested in studying this historic period of time in U.S. history to gain depth in my understanding of feminine communication, organizational symbolism, and the role of communication in organizations. After taking courses in the field of communication, such as Theories of Organizational Communication and Interpersonal Communication, I was interested in the affects feminine communication styles have on organizations. I wanted to take this opportunity to increase my understanding of the theories I used in this study. As well, I am entering the workforce and want to gain some insight on how communication might work in some organizations or how to view the culture based on the symbols I have available to analyze.
I will fulfill the following steps to effectively report on the emergence of feminine communication in the workplace through a specific method. First, I will outline feminism and feminine communication. Then I will give the method in which I will examine the texts and artifacts. The traits of feminine communication will be visible by looking at the action, verbal, and material symbols from the organizational symbolism approach laid out by Mat Alvesson. After my analysis of the text, I will report the implications from this analysis and then conclude my paper.
Feminism and Feminine Communication
Three Waves of Feminism in the U.S.
Until the nineteenth century, men and women filled dissimilar roles in society. The roles of men and women had been categorized by gender. Men worked to provide for the family and hold civic responsibilities in society while women stayed home to take care of the children and fulfill traditional roles as a housewife. However, towards the middle of the nineteenth century women sought their freedom, launching the feminist movement in the United States. A loose definition of a feminist is a “person who believes in sex and gender equality” (Ivy, 2000, p.11). Efforts of women such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and organizations like the National Women Suffrage Association helped lead the movement in the United States. One member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association stated “the fundamental principle of all republican governments… is that every human being of mature powers… is entitled to all the rights and privileges which belong to every other human being under the law” (Triece, 2002, p.199). This member was attempting to signal that people in the U.S., by law, were held to the same expectations and requirements, but not everyone was given the same rights and privileges every citizen should have. Eventually women won the right to vote in nineteen twenty with the passing of the nineteenth amendment to the U.S. constitution.
As the National Women Suffrage Association continued its pursuit to present the idea that a woman is a citizen (Ramsey, 2000, p.115) the United States entered World War II requiring women to enter jobs traditionally held by men, such as riveters, welders, and factory workers. Due to the level of involvement in the war, women made up almost half of the workforce in nineteen forty-five. By the end of the war, there was much debate if women should go back to the traditional gender roles which existed before the war. From 1942 to 1945, the United States War Department released the journal Yank, the Army Weekly (Friedman, 2005, p.65). The goal of the journal was to boost the morale of the soldiers and report the war as accurately as possible. One issue of relevance covered concerns by soldiers and people back home over the possible outcomes for soldiers’ post war employment (p.69). This topic was addressed in the journal by depicting women in their gendered roles as they were before the war began. In 1944 and 1945, Yank urged female workers to give up their employment and return to the homes once the men came back from war.
The United States witnessed the second wave of feminism in the nineteen sixties. After the war, women struggled for an equal place in society. Although they were expected to go back to the house and return to their pre-war roles, many women wanted to stay in the workforce. By the sixties women were no longer fighting for their God given rights, but their equality amongst men. “In 1963, Betty Friedan published a landmark book, The Feminine Mystique… The book became an immediate bestseller and inspired thousands of women to look for fulfillment beyond the role of homemaker” (Eisenberg & Ruthsdotter, 1998). They sought equal opportunity, equal pay, and the desire to be viewed no differently than a man in respects of ability. The movement had grown past the struggle for constitutional rights of women. The second wave of feminism focused on fighting for the equality of men and women in all social areas of society. “Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed, prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sex as well as race, religion, and national origin” (Eisenberg and Ruthsdotter, 1998). Once women had obtained the responsibilities male citizens held, they focused the movement on a woman’s privileges as a citizen in the U.S.
In recent years, the third wave of the feminist movement has taken shape. The third wave formed new groups for the movement designed to change social and political ideology. The third wave encourages people to question the ideas of power and how it is viewed. Feminists’ believe the concept of power must be challenged if the norms of the United State’s patriarchal system are to be changed for equal opportunity (Eisenberg and Goodall Jr., 2004, p.160). Eisenberg and Goodall Jr. (2004) reference Judi Marshall’s feminist view of organizations and her support in examining four differences regarding power and interpretation (p.162-163). This third wave approach questions male dominated culture and the idea that differences between men and women creates the need to acknowledge the existence of difference in how they operate.
The third wave of feminism argues that there must be an understanding of the ways men and women are different. Men and women are biologically different; and thus, have carried out different roles throughout history. Currently, there is a dynamic relationship between gender roles and communication. The U.S. is grounded in a patriarchy. This means that overall, language and decision-making is carried out primarily by men. Those that hold power in society define the gender roles held by men and women. It is the third wave of feminism that suggests society question this power and pre-set gender roles. Gender roles define women as fragile creatures that should stay home, raise the children, take care of the house and submit to men whereas men should work to be able to provide things for the family, fix things around the house when they are broken, and mask emotions of weakness are some examples of gender roles found amongst people today. As the gender roles are learned and passed on to children, the roles reinforce the existence of difference among men and women and the theory of gendered communication.
The idea that there is a difference between men and women in both sex and gender gives the possibility of a theory based on gendered communication styles. Ivy and Backlund define gender communication as “communication about and between men and women” (Ivy, 2000, p.4). Within their definition, the term “about” refers to how men and women are discussed or depicted. When people discuss stereotypes or gender roles, they are communicating about men and women. The term “between” refers to my interest of study, the interpersonal dimensions between people. The theory of gender communication outlines the key differences in two communication styles labeled masculine and feminine. Deborah Tannen refers to these styles as genderlect, which are viewed as two distinct cultural dialects (Griffin, 2006, p.471). These styles contrast how the two differ in interpersonal relationships. Stereotypically, sex lines up with gender, meaning most women carry feminine communication traits and most men have masculine communication traits. Therefore it is common to find references of feminine communication as how women communicate and masculine communication as how men communicate.
These two styles are contrasting because they have different approaches when communicating. The characteristics of masculine and feminist traits are visible when they are the structure of an organization (Appendix A). Research has shown that based on society’s view of stereotypes, masculine traits tend to have extrinsic goals like rewards, benefits, or power status; whereas, feminine communication focuses on intrinsic goals like opportunities to grow and develop networks with others (Tomlinson, 1997, p.219). In terms of leadership, feminine communication uses a transformational leadership style where he or she overcomes their personal interests of power and charisma to accomplish a common goal with an employee. Masculine communication uses transactional leadership (Cole, 2004). This means the use of power and hierarchy are utilized to reward or punish workers. When in the context of the organization, feminine communication appears to have more interest in connecting with others and developing personal skills as opposed to beating the competition and being the best in the organization.
The purpose of this analysis is not to determine which gender communication style is more effective in an organization. The goal is to uncover the formation of feminine communication in organizations which began during WWII. The differences in communication styles are linked to feminism and the idea that there is more than one way to operate in an organization. Feminine communication is one technique in which an organization could operate differently.
There are several approaches to studying organizational culture. First, there must be an understanding of what is culture. Edgar H. Schein, a professor of management, defines culture through a group setting. Schein (1992) notes that “a group has a culture when it has had enough of a shared history to have formed such as set of shared assumptions” (p.12). Because of his framework for a group, I find the definition applicable to organizations as well. The group creates shared assumptions through shared history and defends the group’s culture because the people involved are emotionally invested (p.12). These shared assumptions make it possible to differentiate one culture from another. Therefore, culture is defined as “A pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems” (Schein, 1992, p.12).
Organizational culture refers to the culture that exists within the walls of an organization. There are different approaches to organizational culture which describe views of culture. Organizational symbolism is an approach that uses the symbols found within the organization which aid in understanding the culture (Eisenberg, 2004, p. 133-135). Alvesson (1992) discusses that several types of symbols can be used to examine an organizational culture (p. 85-87). The three major types of symbols to be used for the method in this analysis are action, verbal, and material symbols.
An alternate approach I considered was comparative management. This view approaches organizational culture as a result of its employees, depending upon their beliefs and behaviors within the geographical region. Comparative management assumes the combination of surrounding cultures where the organization is located determines the culture. I thought this view focused more on an organization’s location, like a nation or region, instead of what went on within the organization to construct culture. A second approach is known as corporate culture, which views culture as something that can be controlled by implementing a certain culture. This approach to culture allows management to believe they can create a desired culture through manipulating their employees’ behavior. I am not interested in the methods management tried to shape the culture in organizations.
Organizational symbolism does not view culture as something that is brought in from an existing outside culture or imposed by management. It suggests that culture is “indirectly revealed through language, stories, nonverbal messages, and communicative exchanges” (Eisenberg, 2004, p.133). Language, nonverbal messages, and communicative exchanges are types of symbols. Symbols are often related to cultures; thus, a culture could be viewed as a system of symbols (Alvesson, 1992, p.85). Alvesson explains that a symbol can have an affect on those whom the symbol(s) has shared significance. People who work together or live together have shared meanings and significance. The narratives and artifacts are symbols that must be interpreted in order to examine the culture to view feminine communication within the organizations. He outlines three types of symbols that can have shared meaning or significance. The three major types of symbols are action symbols, verbal symbols, and material symbols (p. 85-86).
Action symbols refer to behaviors which convey meaning. An example would be when the president of a company walks the “floor” of the factory to meet with the employees to show he or she cares about them (Alvesson, 1992, p.121-122). In this case, the symbolism is not rooted in what the president talks about with the employees; instead, the meaning is in the action of walking amongst the workers to signals the president’s interest in their lives. Rituals or repeated events are another example of action symbols (Dandridge et al., 1980, p.80). Events that take place on a regular basis within the members of the society reflect the meaning. Dandridge et al. explains how in historical patriarchal societies, men in power adjourned to the “men’s hut” because they held certain responsibilities (p.80). A similar comparison is made to upper management within an organization, when they meet in the board member’s room. These actions of certain people being admitted to members only events symbolize the presence of power through a chain of command in the culture. Action symbols are an excellent window to view the type of communication that is present within an organization. The analysis of the narratives and artifacts from WWII will help point out feminine communication within the organizations.
Verbal symbols include most types of communication such as stories, mottos, or slogans which give people a window to view the culture of the organization. The verbal symbols reflect the culture by emphasizing things like values and behaviors that exist or are expected in the organization. The symbols, or stories, which stick with the organization, or perhaps even become legends, are believed to have an “influence on how members of the organization relate to the company and its operations (Alvesson, 1992, p.122). As reported in Dandridge et al. (1980), anthropologists note a link between verbal and action symbols. “The distinguished anthropologist Malinowski notes that the knowledge of myth ‘supplies man with the motive for ritual and moral actions, as well as with indications as to how to perform them’” (p.80). This means that within the legends are action symbols explained which are spread through the organization. I will be analyzing narratives which are verbal symbols about the women’s experiences in the organizations. These verbal symbols will allow me to analyze the action symbols as well.
Alvesson identified material symbols as artifacts (Alvesson, 1992, p.121). “Artifacts may be said to constitute an organization’s ‘physical vestiges, that is to say the sediments of human activity which facilitate (and limit) organized actions’” (p. 121). The layout of the building, the colors of the wall or carpet, and the uniforms the employees wear are all examples of things that are symbols which affect the organizational culture. A logo for the organization is an example given by Dandridge et al. “As a symbol, the logo is an externalized, visible, and concrete representation, standing for the ‘symbolic image’ (unique identity) of the whole organization” (Dandridge et al., 1980, p.80). I am using other visible artifacts, such as photographs of the women and men workers during WWII to look for feminine communication in the organization. I will be able to examine the organizational culture from these three types of symbols through the examples found in the narratives and artifacts. Interpreting these symbols will allow me to address my research question.
For my analysis, I will be examining narratives from women that worked in the factories during WWII and artifacts such as clothing and photos that came from the same period. Assuming that there was no feminine communication present before these women entered the jobs traditionally held by men, these collections of narratives and artifacts will allow me to understand the organizational cultures that developed because of the materialization of the feminine communication within the culture of the organizations. Because I am using narratives and artifacts to analyze, the organizational symbolism approach worked best to help reconstruct the culture during WWII.
The collection of stories, photographs, and other artifacts being analyzed are located on the National Park Service’s website which documents the American World War II home front. The website reports the on-line collections make up a small sample from thousands of items that have been donated from across the country. I have chosen to use these stories, photos, and artifacts as examples to analyze because they are primary sources which I will be able to interpret. Other books that have documented history may have only used a specific context or not addressed the issue of communication style when reporting about operations in the organizations. By using stories that came directly from the women that lived the experiences and examining the photos and artifacts, I will be able to point to feminine communication styles that were present through the three types of organizational symbols. As well, I am assuming that the sample found on-line is a strong representation of the rest of the items that have been donated to the National Park Service.
I will first analyze the action symbols found in the collection. Recall that action symbols are behaviors which communicate meaning to others. A common example of an action symbol is some type of ritual that a group performs. For example, many churches have a time during their service to exchange the peace among the people in the congregation. This symbolizes that the church cares for its members and encourage the members to build relationships between each other.
Since there is no way to go back in time and watch the people in these organizations work, action symbols must be drawn from stories shared by the women who were there. Delana Jensen Close, one of many referred to as Rosie the Riveter, made guns at Yuba during the war. In her notes she writes “May 8, 1945 was a day of celebration, but one of mixed emotions for us. We [female employees] lost our jobs. Yuba would no longer make guns. We said our good byes, and when the foreman of my section shook my hand and said goodbye, he added, “You were the best man I president walking the floor of the factory and the foreman telling his employees goodbye. Taking the time to say farewell and offering a handshake signals that a relationship has been built and a level of equality exists between the two people.
Noted in the theory, the traits of feminine communication styles use a transformational leadership style where the person overcomes their personal interests of power and charisma to accomplish a common goal with an employee (Cole, 2004). It is unknown if the foreman practiced feminine communication traits before women like Delana Close joined the organization, but it is visible that he used some aspects of feminine communication by the end of the war. This symbol is feminine in nature because of the meaning which is drawn from the action. A relationship has been developed between the foreman and Close. He shook her hand and said goodbye. As well, the foreman compliments Delana’s personal abilities as a worker because she was the best man he had. The foreman saw her as an equal, an employee just like the men that worked at Yuba. These actions which depict equality and developed relationships signal traits of feminine communication.
Feminine communication strives for intrinsic goals, such as taking opportunities to develop themselves and build networks (Tomlinson, 1997, p.219). At the time, Grace F. Ochenski worked at Ford Motor Company in Highland Park, Michigan as a riveter on B-24 planes. While at Ford, she recalled going out with the girls she worked with to donate blood to the recipients of their choice. Ochenski wrote “I made many friends while working at Fords and we kept in touch for awhile, and then lost touch” (Sorensen, 2004). When employees practice a ritual like donating blood with a group of co-workers and build networks, the culture points to a feminine communication style. Some networks became so strong they developed into long term friendships, or in some cases men and women practiced the ritual of marriage. Mary Stockton Brancato is one example who found her husband in the organization (Sorensen, 2004). These examples support my argument because they occur in the organization and hold the characteristics of feminine communication.
The second symbol to examine the collection of narratives and artifacts are verbal symbols. Verbal symbols are stories, legends, or myths that hold meaning for people that have shared significance. The employees may have a story about how mean the boss gets if people break the chain of command. This would point to an organizational culture that views power as hierarchical.
Maier identifies one feminist organizational trait as roles and events which are integrated and connected are governed by relations and communication (Appendix A). This means that the roles people fill in the organization are connected to the events that occur. These roles and events are determined by the relationships and communication that is carried out. This feminist trait can be loosely connected with Tomilson’s view of feminine communication desiring to grow and build relationships. Donna Jean Harvey wrote “I enjoy sharing stories with my co-workers as most of them were ‘war widows’ also and we gave each other a shoulder to cry on when needed and a hug whether we needed it or not just to get ourselves through the shift” (Sorensen, 2004). Harvey’s shared network of war widowed co-workers allowed her to strengthen their relationships through the sharing of stories.
In the case of verbal symbols, the stories which are shared in the organization are the symbols that can be used to identify feminine communication. One could imagine the stories could cover almost any topic. An example might expand from Geraldine Snyder’s note about her foreman. “My foreman was a rough talking boss, he would talk a blue streak of cuss words. I could wear slacks to work so that was nice. We had no breaks at all, only long enough to use the restroom. You would get docked if you punched the time clock too early, or too late. There was a ½ hour lunch break in a lunch room, and you could not stop working until the whistle blew” (Sorensen, 2004). Complaints like these might be a common topic for co-workers to build relations around. Stories like these hold meaning to people that have shared significance. In this case, people that have the same foreman as Geraldine Snyder could empathize with her when the foreman was stern with her. The ability to empathize or identify with is one way which people can build a network or relationships. The point is when employees share these stories, legends, or myths and the goal is to connect with another person, feminine communication occurs.
Another trait found in Maier’s table is the ideal of equality and sharing of labor amongst people in the organization with leaders as coordinators and facilitators (appendix A). I linked these views from the feminist organizational structure to Cole’s feminine communication traits which include transformational leadership styles. Take, for example what Lucille E. Sunde said about her experience from working during WWII.
After I proudly received my citizenship, I applied for work at the shipyards. There I was a Rosie the Riveter. Most of the time I didn’t really know what to do. I worked along with the girls and a team leader. She”, the team leader, “looked at some plans. Then a big sheet of metal was held up and we attacked with our rivet guns. I can still hear the sound ringing in my ears. (Sorensen, 2004)
Verbal symbols like Sunde’s story of working along side her team leader or Delana Jensen Close who was told she was the best man on the job are examples that indicate the presence of feminine communication in the organizations during WWII.
The last of the three symbols used to examine the narratives and artifacts are material symbols. Material symbols use visible icons to represent the culture. A common example of a material symbol is the company logo. In search of feminine communication styles, I will be analyzing the uniforms women wore while working at the different factories and plants as well as documents that dealt with women working during WWII.
A sports team wears a uniform to promote unity. The desired result is no different for an organization. As seen in the photographs, most of the women were required to follow some type of dress code. Loucille Ramsey Long, who worked on planes during the war, remembered wearing “coveralls and steel toed shoes, our hair covered with a big handkerchief” (Sorensen, 2004). Delana Jensen Close noted “Women working the plants usually wore denim coveralls. They were quite trim, tight at the waist and rather becoming. Hair had to be covered so that it did not get caught in the machinery. This was done with a ‘snood’. A snood was a heavy hairnet that hung loose on the back of the neck to accommodate our long hair. There was a denim cap that came with the snood attached and matched our uniforms” (Sorensen, 2004). As well as coveralls and hairnets, women were also required to wear employee badges to permit them to go to work. These uniforms were a great opportunity for women to presents themselves as reliable employees, yet at the same time keep their identity as a woman. Triece (2002) identified that feminist organizations view roles and events integrated and connected; governed by relations and communication (appendix A). The uniforms allowed women to portray the traditional female gender roles expected by society as well as the role of an employee. Organizations that viewed women in connected roles as woman and worker were communicating under feminine communication.
Uniforms and badges are material symbols for feminine communication. They are the visual icons which identify women in the organization. With all the employees fitting the same type of uniform, it is possible to interpret a message that signals “everyone is in this together”. Men were eventually able to see women as effective workers. They even reach the point of developing relationships with the female workers by the end of the war. Helen Ann Derusha said “I can recall some of the incidents of that time and remember that we women weren’t exactly welcomed with open arms by the men who would work as our partners. They showed some hostility towards us which led to some teasing and down grading. We seemed to be accepted in a little while and our work progressed more smoothly” (Sorensen, 2004). Over time, men and women developed meaningful relationships, a major trait of feminine communication. Donna Jean Harvey recalls an older kind man whom employees would seek out when they needed advice. In some cases, like Mary Stockton Brancato, co-workers found romantic relationships which led to marriage.
Analyzing the narratives and artifacts through action, verbal, and material symbols makes it clear that there was a presence of feminine communication styles in the organizations during WWII. It is accepted that feminine communication is found throughout organizations in today’s society. Thus, the next question to examine is what this analysis reveals for organizations, academic scholars, and me.
Organizations are always trying to stay one step ahead of the competition. Some management teams do this by trying to control all possible aspects of the organization, while others put more responsibility in the hands of their employees. Should management try and control the style of communication its employees use? There are organizations such as Ford Motor Company which have been around since WWII and are rooted in masculine style communication. It is difficult to adapt any change to an organization’s culture; and after viewing communication as a culture, it may be very difficult to adapt a new style.
Each organization must also investigate if there is a need for feminine style communication. Younger organizations have the ability to mold their communication style and use a feminine communication style. However, the organization should consider if a feminine or masculine communication style is more effective. The style of communication will depend on the goals of the organization and the leadership styles of management. Thus far, there is no definite answer that one style of communication outperforms the other. It appears that many questions arise for organizations that should be directed at communication scholars.
Understanding the past gives the potential to predict the future. By finding traces of feminine communication in the organizations during WWII, it is very important that scholars continue to study and further develop the theory of feminine communication. As communication scholars continue to deepen their understanding of where communication styles are rooted, they will have an increased likelihood of finding answers to the inquiries listed above. Scholars should understand that this analysis used an interpretive approach method. Alvesson’s organizational symbolism approach allowed me to interpret the narratives as to how they appeared in the text. A more objective approach might be more effective when addressing how much feminine communication actually took place within the organizations during WWII. I still operate under the assumption that masculine communication was the dominant style of communication in organizations during that time period and still is today.
On a personal level, this analysis has helped me grasp a better understanding of feminine communication as well as the organizational symbolism approach to viewing an organization’s culture. Analyzing the narratives and artifacts taught me to look for symbols that represent the organization’s culture. Now, I have a better chance of identifying the existing cultures in today’s organizations. This will be a useful tool as I enter the workforce so I can find an organization that best fits my needs. Studying feminine and masculine communication styles has also given some insight as to how communication breakdowns can occur. Since the two styles of communication have clearly different characteristics based on their goals and meaning, it is clear to see miscommunication occur between people of opposite styles.
This analysis set out to examine texts and artifacts of WWII to reveal the emergence of feminine communication in the workplace through the method of organizational symbolism. To complete this task, I first explained the development of the three feminist movements in the U.S. and feminine communication. Next, I explained the method, organizational symbolism, and identified the three types of symbols that were going to be used in the analysis. Upon examining the texts and artifacts, I found several examples of action, verbal, and material symbols which contained a feminine style of communication. After supporting the argument that feminine communication emerged in the workplace during WWII, implications were connected to contemporary organizations, scholars and students, and me.
Searching for feminine communication styles in the organizations of WWII through the lens of organizational symbolism supports the argument that people must acknowledge the possibility that different communication styles can exist within a culture such as an organization. These communication differences are important to organizations and communication scholars. Based on the theory of gender communication, there are noticeable differences in masculine and feminine communication traits. These differences in communication styles can affect organizations, workers and scholars. This analysis has helped raise several questions that should be examined in the future. Continuing research in this relatively new communication style may one day help to bridge communication gaps in society due to the ability of understanding the differences.
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“A Comparison of masculinist and feminist organizational structures” (Triece, 2002, p. 948).
1. Top-down authority
2. Hierarchical division of labor
3. Leaders as commanders
4. Hoarding of knowledge and skills
5. Separation of mental and manual labor
6. Roles and events divided and rationalized; governed by rules
7. Hierarchical division of reward
8. Suppression of politics in favor of managerial solutions (“play it safe”); no room for “loyal opposition”
1. Democratic authority
2. Equality and sharing of labor
3. Leaders as coordinators and facilitators
4. Sharing of knowledge and skills
5. Connection of mental and manual labor
6. Roles and events integrated and connected; governed by relations and communication
7. Egalitarian division of reward
8. Recognition of politics and of more than one legitimate solution; acknowledge opposition