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Businesswomen and war metaphors: possessive, jealous and pugnacious?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date02/2004
JournalJournal of Sociolinguistics
Journal number1
Volume8
Number of pages20
Pages3-22
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This paper investigates the metaphors employed for the description of women managers, hypothesising that using the war metaphor in this context reflects the hegemonic masculinity determining business discourse. To test the hypothesis, cognitive metaphor theory in combination with Critical Discourse Analysis is applied to two corpora of business magazine features on executives. Metaphorical expressions used to describe businesswomen are extracted from one corpus, and these expressions are then contrasted with those for businessmen. Moreover, the initial corpus is scanned for alternative metaphors for businesswomen. Findings indicate that metaphorical expressions such as corporate killer are used for first‐ and third‐person reference across genders. Hence, the metaphorical concept businesswomen are warriors and the male prototype it sustains seem pervasive. Moreover, alternatives like businesswomen are cheerleaders/nurturers are not necessarily counter‐discursive as they reproduce the binary gender paradigm characterising hegemonic masculinity.