Jarvis Running Head: WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP Problem Statement Paper Joan Jarvis Spring Arbor University 1 Jarvis 2 PROBLEM STATEMENT PAPER For some time communication scholars have been interested in message effects from male and female sources (Schein, 1975; Bunyi & Andrews, 1985). As a field for applying these interests, the impact of male and female communicator messages in formal organizations may be an area of productive inquiry. This paper suggests a research problem on this topic. In proposing strategies for bridging the gender leadership gap, researchers have often overlooked the role that communication competencies and communication styles play in the leadership advancement of both women and men (Hackman & Johnson, 1997, pp. 312-13). As such, exploring this topic may suggest practices for fostering diversity in the workplace and reducing negative gender stereotypes. The benefits of fostering diversity to employers further include cost savings, higher creativity and better decisionmaking (Jamieson, 1995). Researchers have identified important differences in communication practice between men and women (Tannen, 1990). Among women’s distinctive communication message behaviors, tag questions have stimulated interest and study (Bradley, 1981). When women are observed in organizational settings, their use of tag questions might be expected to influence such variables as their rates of promotion and their work performance ratings. This inference is strengthened by research that has found a strong correlation between perceived communication competence and career success (ShockleyZalabak, Staley, & Morley, 1988, p. 553). Based on such speculation, the following problem is advanced for research: Do women whose speech includes tag questions Jarvis 3 receive fewer promotions in formal organizations than women whose speech does not include tag questions? This paper has isolated tag questions in women’s speech as a communication variable and asked a research question relating it to rates of promotion in the organization. This problem suggests a potentially fruitful research area to guide future investigation since women tend to be underrepresented in middle and upper-management positions. Jarvis 4 References Bradley, P. H. (1981). The folk-linguistics of women’s speech: An empirical examination. Communication Monographs, 48, 73-90. Bunyi, J. M., & Andrews, P. H.. (1985). Gender and leadership emergence: An experimental study. Southern Speech Communication Journal, 50, 246-260. Hackman, M. Z., & Johnson, C.E. (1997). Leadership: A communication perspective (2nd ed). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. Jamieson, K. H. (1995). Beyond the double bind: Women and leadership. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Schein, V. E. (1975). Relationships between sex role stereotypes and requisite management characteristics among female managers. Journal of Applied Psychology, 60, 340-344. Shockley-Zalabak, P., Staley, C.C., & Morley, D.D. (1988). The female professional: Perceived communication proficiencies as predictors of organizational advancement. Human Relations, 41, 553-67. Tannen, D. (1990). You just don’t understand: Women and men in conversation. New York, NY: Ballantine.