Gender/Genre: The Lack of Gendered Register in Texts Requiring Genre Knowledge
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Some studies have found characteristics of written texts that vary with author gender, echoing popular beliefs about essential gender differences that are reinforced in popular works of some scholarly authors. This article reports a study examining texts (N = 193) written in the same genre—a legal memorandum—by women and men with similar training in production of this type of discourse—the first year of U.S. law school—and finds no difference between them on the involved–informational dimension of linguistic register developed by Biber. These findings provide quantitative data opposing essentialist narratives of gender difference in communication. This essay considers relevance theory as a framework for understanding the interaction, exhibited in this and previous studies, of genre knowledge and gendered communicative performances.
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