Negotiating Maternity Leave Expectations: Perceived Tensions between Ethics of Justice and Care

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ethics, maternity leave, negotiation, gender communication, superior-subordinate communication

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Academic and popular materials designate maternity leave as a period of transition and role negotiation in which women and other organizational members, particularly their bosses, might interact differently from times in which there are no employment breaks. Because maternity leave is a socially constructed process within specific interactional contexts, women’s discourse can reveal ways they shape their expectations about treatment during pregnancies/leaves. Their discourse displays how they perceive, make sense of, and negotiate their experiences with others. In this study, women who had maternity leaves indicated that their treatment often differed so greatly fromexpectations that they were unable to communicate and negotiate with their bosses. Viewed from ethics of justice and care, these boss-subordinate exchanges were not simply instances of miscommunication but possibly tensions produced by conceptualizing and enacting justice and care stances. Feminist ethics provides a way to reframe ethical stances and construct visions of caring workplace communities.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

International Journal of Business Communication, v. 41, issue 4, p. 323-349