Lodz Papers in Pragmatics vol:9 issue:2 pages:175-198
Existing research on women‘s construction of professional identities and, more specifically, on leader identities in the workplace, has traditionally focused mainly on western contexts. This article aims to extend this focus by investigating the position of women in the workplace in India. We do this by discursively analyzing audio-taped semi-structured interviews with women who are working in the corporate sector in India. The aim of these analyses is to present a number of case studies about the unique challenges that women face at the workplace in the urban Indian context, especially when they take up leadership positions. The issues they grapple with are the collision of the traditional dominant discourses on appropriate female behavior and the new professional identities that these women wish to embrace. The paper discusses how these female professionals mainly construct two quite diverging identities: either as nurturing mentors or as aggressive professionals who are involved in activities traditionally viewed as ―a man‘s domain‖. Conclusions are then drawn regarding how these professional identities acquiesce to, counter, or — as is the case in one interview — carefully mould, hegemonic discourses of femininity in India.