A Grounded Theory of Women’s Assertive Identity Negotiation

  • Author / Creator
    McLean, Michelle
  • Assertiveness can be taboo for women. This is highlighted by recent social movements (i.e., #METOO) where women describe considerable self-doubt about their right to stand up to abuse.
    The onus for abusive behaviour lies with perpetrators. Assertiveness, though, is shown to mitigate the extent of abuse and is related to better mental and social health outcomes overall. Given the internal and external barriers women face to assertiveness, it is crucial to understand how women become assertive in spite of the obstacles. The purpose of this grounded theory study was to examine the processes through which women develop assertiveness. Questionnaire and interview data were collected from 11 women. Six reported currently struggling with assertiveness and five struggled in the past but considered themselves more assertive now. The resulting theory conceptualizes how women negotiate an assertive identity within the tensions of their social context. Participants’ main concerns centered on belonging, evaluating, and costs of
    belonging. Processes in resolving these main concerns related to pursuing change, finding belonging, challenging evaluations, and developing an assertive identity. Assertive identity negotiation involved continual reflection and commitment to becoming assertive while balancing concerns about belonging and interpersonal consideration. Through this process of negotiating
    and balancing intra and interpersonal factors, women were able to move from a view that an assertive identity is one that does not belong to a view that an assertive identity can belong. This
    theory provides an empirical model to inform counselling practices in helping women overcome internal and external barriers to negotiating an assertive identity.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2020
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Education
  • DOI
  • License
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