Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Mariaelena Bartesaghi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Patrice M. Buzzanell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Keith Berry, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Camilla Vasquez, Ph.D.


gender, identity, leadership discourse, narratives, women's career advancement


This dissertation is about advice as social practice. Specifically, I examine leadership discourse as communicatively constituted and advice-giving as creating a metadiscourse of gendered abilities and leadership asymmetries. In the light of the growing number of initiatives created for women to improve their status as leaders, this project examines leadership, not as a quality, but as discourse: as a communicative dynamic. This is in line with how organizations see leadership when they create leadership programs, for these programs are designed to advise or teach women to be different and better leaders. My purpose is to encourage inclusiveness and contribute to leadership discourse research as well as explore how leadership discourse is negotiated as gendered and gendering. This means it creates gender as well as classifies it. My research analyzes the personal narratives of corporate women and career coaches who advise professional women in their career progression. The data consists of written discourse in which I evaluate four amazon best-sellers books written by corporate women and career coaches. I utilize a synthetic approach to discourse analysis to examine how advice is organized, constituted, and made up of leadership discourse. My three analytical chapters comprise the strategies of the authorship, advice as narrative, and advice as a site of gender and gendered identity. Findings like linguistic patterns, acceptance or counter master narratives, and identity negotiations are examined as they are strategically deployed in the author’s personal narratives. I conclude with a discussion of the role of self-help literature as an agent and its contribution to the leadership discourse.

Included in

Communication Commons