Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Eric M. Eisenberg


entrepreneur, framing, gender, mother, organizational communication, public relations


Individuals often get asked: So what do you do? This question can be challenging for those in less traditional work settings, such as stay-at-home-moms and the self-employed. To help women better understand the range of possible responses, this study explores how women in Public Relations respond to identity questions that involve both their work and personal lives. I begin by situating the study within relevant literature on entrepreneurship, female business owners, the history of women in the workplace, work/life issues, Public Relations, the use of language to construct work identity, and structuration theory. I conducted one-on-one qualitative interviews as my methodology. Next, I discuss how my research questions led to a variety of often paradoxical findings including: (a) business owners who perceive mothering as their primary role; (b) the development of the "unplanned organization;" (c) business ownership as a phenomenon that seemingly offers more opportunities, but also constrains people in unexpected ways; (d) the emergence of nontraditional work arrangements, which continue to experience some resistance; (e) the idea that advisers can be peers or colleagues; (f) new labels, such as virtual work and virtual agency, that describe individuals' roles but raise lingering questions about societal perceptions of work; (g) how framing and sensemaking can offer women tools to account for the discontinuities in their narratives.

Included in

Communication Commons