Impression management: a form of emotion work for women in a male-dominated profession

Watts, J. H. (2008). Impression management: a form of emotion work for women in a male-dominated profession. International Journal of Work, Organisation and Emotion, 2(3) pp. 221–235.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1504/IJWOE.2008.019424

Abstract

This article presents findings from ethnographic qualitative research into the career experience of women in professional construction roles. It highlights the discursive features of a highly male-dominated industry that is imbued with a ‘presenteeism’ and long hours culture. Drawing on Goffman’s concept of impression management, the article explores how women respond to cultural and social pressures to be a ‘hard’ and ‘long’ working member of the team and how they negotiate participation in the now ‘ritualised’ male pub gathering. The requirement to observe a strict separation between home and work life frames what is seen as appropriate workplace talk; women’s collusion in this observance is emotionally demanding adding to their stress but essential in their management of others’ impression of their performance in role. The emotion work required of women to establish and maintain their professional credibility negatively affects well being and job satisfaction, and for some, leads to high levels of burnout.

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