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Colloquium: “Communication is everything.” Identities and gender at work: a linguistic perspective on agile IT” (Joelle Loew)

Lecturer(s)Joelle Loew
Contact personNatalia Zeiser
DateTuesday, 18th April 2023, 13:00 - 14:00
LocationEnglisches Seminar, Raum 11 Basel Switzerland

“Communication is everything.” Identities and gender at work: a linguistic perspective on agile IT

Dr. des. Joelle Loew (Hochschule Luzern)

In this talk Joelle Loew reports on her PhD study on professional communication in agile IT teams with a focus on the discursive construction of identities through a gender lens. IT workplaces in Euro- and Anglo-Western contexts have undergone two significant changes in the last decade: Firstly, agile ways of working have become the norm for software development and project management. “Agile” includes ideologies, processes and practices linked to open and frequent communication, empowered teams, reduced hierarchies, and an emphasis on interpersonal and relational aspects of professional communication. Secondly, increasing diversity in the field of IT through the inclusion of women has become an ongoing priority, yet studies continue to identify themes of gender discrimination. Counter to the importance of communication to agile ways of working, linguistic research on these issues remains scarce. Deploying frameworks at the intersection of discourse analysis, interactional sociolinguistics and identity construction, the study addresses this gap. Drawing on multiple data sources including recordings of business interactions and interviews with IT professionals from Switzerland, the UK, and the US, Joelle Loew explores how participants discursively construct professional, personal and gender identities in talk about work, and talk at work. Joelle Loew discusses how this contributes to a gendering and de-gendering of work, thereby adding to ongoing debates about the gendering of the IT industry specifically, and the gendering of work more globally. Finally, Joelle Loew offers some insights on how persistent gender inequalities in the field might be addressed.

Joelle Loew is a lecturer in Business Communication at Lucerne School of Business with a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Basel. Her research and teaching areas include professional and medical communication, specifically discourse analysis, gender, and identity construction.