A female Qatari’s negotiation of gender and professional identity
Keywords:Middle Eastern workplace, gender identity, professional identity, intersectional identity, narrative analysis, research interview
Most research on gender in the Middle Eastern workplace treats gender identities in relation to the polarity of ‘tradition’ and ‘modernity’. Although some of these studies take a critical perspective, they largely ignore the importance of language, and therefore empirical work on this topic from a social constructionist perspective is largely lacking. This article presents the narratives related by a female Qatari professional during a research interview and the discursive positions she takes up vis-à-vis these ‘tradition-or-modernity’- oriented dominant discourses of gender-based difference. A qualitative, micro-oriented discourse analytical method highlights how ‘gender identity’ is made relevant in the negotiation of ‘professional identity’ and how culturally-governed expectations about femininity and professionalism surface – and are interactionally dealt with. The interviewee constructs a highly ephemeral identity at the intersection of gender and professional identity, presenting a much less polarised view on gender identity. This challenges essentialist notions of the gender-related tradition-modernity dichotomy found in the literature.
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