This article calls for a rhetorical perspective on the relationship of gender, communication,and power in the workplace. In doing so, the author uses narrative in two ways.First, narratives gathered in an ethnographic study of an actual workplace, a plasticsmanufacturer, are used as a primary source of data, and second, the findings of this studyare presented by telling the story of two women in this workplace. Arguing that genderin the workplace, like all social identities, is locally constructed through the micro practicesof everyday life, the author questions some of the prevailing assumptions about genderat work and cautions professional communication teachers, researchers, and practitionersagainst unintentionally perpetuating global, decontextualized assumptionsabout gender and language, and their relationship to the distribution and exercise of power at work.
Based on the action research model of inquiry, this article is an interpretive ethnographic case study, exploring the power of narratives as a sensemaking device for members of a women's resource network in a large corporation during a time of significant organizational change, and the influence of storytelling on the networking practices of its members. Data are based on participant observation, formal and informal interviews, focus groups, and document analysis, including presentations, meeting notes, and e-mail correspondence. Drawing on the concepts of sensemaking, identity construction, and habitus, analysis of the members' stories suggests three key conclusions: reliance on collectively constructing stories; use of stories to deal with ambiguity and anxiety; and use of stories to construct and regulate identity. When viewed through a narrative lens, these results illuminate the interconnection of storytelling and networking strategies in a women's resource network that provides a hybrid of both expressive and instrumental benefits.