Women "Auto" Write Differently: A Case Study of Feminist Rhetorical Practices in Professional Email Communication in the Automotive Industry

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in English


Department of English


Advisor: Patrick Thomas


Very few scholars have examined how women adapt to a leadership role in a primarily male-dominated workplace. Those who do study women's communication in the workplace often do so in comparison to male counterparts. This project, however, aims to examine solely the style of communication, specifically in email communication, among women in leadership positions. Because language style and perceptions of effectiveness imply rhetorical concerns, it is important to understand not only how women leaders are perceived by others but also how these women perceive themselves as workplace communicators. To discover how women in leadership write and what affects their writing, this research applies the methodology of Royster & Kirsch's Feminist Rhetorical Practice, employing a mixed approach between a case study and autoethnography. The research includes four female participants' email communication and interview results from two of the four participants. The results show that the women's realization of influence from male-dominated workplace is through dialogue. That said, the way women in leadership write depends very much on the end goal of the email, the audience, and the relationship between the sender and the recipient. Future research will be necessary to include more participants in the interview process because the dialogue with the women provides more contextual background and thought process to the textual analysis.


Communication, Rhetoric, Womens Studies, feminist rhetorical studies, women in leadership, leadership, email communication, professional writing, digital communication, automotive, autoethnography, case study

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