Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Karen Brison




gender, power, language, communication, speech


Tannen, Lakoff, O’Barr, and Atkins suggest connections between gender, power, and language. However, it is unknown if these patterns persist in our society today. Lakoff argues that women are uncomfortable with power and speak in such a way as to avoid sounding authoritative. Tannen argues that women try to be friendly and egalitarian and to use conversations to create relationships. Thus, inadvertently, women lack authority in speech. O-Barr and Atkins say speech styles are not linked to gender but to relative power. Campus tour guides hold a unique position in society in that they must be authoritative leaders, but friendly ambassadors of the college community. This study analyzes the use of power-laden and powerless language among both male and female tour guides on the collegiate campus through the analysis of speech patterns, tour content, and body language. Through this analysis, I suggest that both men and women use language in similar ways, while gender influences body language. So-called “powerless” speech is really a way of creating a friendly informal atmosphere in appropriate contexts, used by both men and women.