HomeLearning CenterFemale Candidates Are Often Discussed Using Gendered Terms

Female Candidates Are Often Discussed Using Gendered Terms

Originally published by Cynthia Richie Terrell in Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation for Ms. Magazine

Female candidates are often discussed using gendered terms, according to an article from PsyPost features new research published in Political Research Quarterly. The study discusses the impact of implicit gender framing on male and female political candidates. This can reinforce stereotypes and contribute to the belief that women are less qualified for political positions. Media portrayal is yet another barrier women face while running for office. Implicit biases in the media can discourage women from running for office. 

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Their findings revealed that women receive more coverage related to their political experience and professional qualifications (or lack thereof) than men in mixed-gender races. However, female candidates received more coverage on “feminine” qualifications, such as family and children, compared to male candidates, indicating the use of explicit gender frames.

All-female races received the highest probability of coverage on feminine qualifications relative to other race types, suggesting that explicit gender frames were more prevalent in races featuring two women candidates. In all-male races, men receive more coverage of their political experience than women do in all-female races.

The authors found that implicit gender frames are more prevalent than explicit gender frames in news coverage of candidate qualifications. Implicit gender frames are used more frequently when discussing female candidates than male candidates. For example, female candidates are more likely to be described as “emotional” or “compassionate,” while male candidates are more likely to be described as “strong” or “confident.”

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