Projecting Gender Identity in Argumentative Written Discourse

Mehdi Nasri, Reza Biria, Mahzad Karimi


Generally speaking, writers use various resources for introducing themselves to their readers. Among these, stance and engagement discourse markers are fundamental properties which manifest the underlying interaction process between writers and readers. The present paper sought to investigate whether male and female Iranian EFL learners performed differently in terms of using stance and engagement features in their writing assignments. To this end, a corpus comprising 80 argumentative essays written by advanced learners (40 males and 40 females) were collected and analyzed respectively. Hyland’s (2008) framework of stance and engagement features including hedges, boosters, attitude markers and self-mention as well as readers’ use of engagement markers such as pronouns, directives, questions, and shared knowledge served as a tertium comprationis for comparing and contrasting the written corpora created by male and female students.  For analyzing the data, a software named Hermetic Word Counter was utilized to determine the frequency of the targeted tokens. The findings revealed that male and female writers made a differential use of stance and engagement features in writing argumentative essays. The significance of the differences was further attested by the application of a chi-square statistical technique. Regarding stance-taking, it was found out that both groups followed the same patterns of stance-taking except for the use of hedges and boosters. Moreover, compared to male students, the female writers tried to create reader engagement by asking questions. 


Argumentative Writing, Engagement, Gender differences, Meta-discourse markers, Stance

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