Analyzing Gendered & Raced Editorial Scrutiny of Lawmakers in the U.S. and U.K.

Julia Bourkland and Vanessa Cruz Nichols (Indiana University)

Abstract: Content analyses in gender and politics scholarship find that female elites are often discussed in different and degrading ways in news media compared to their male counterparts, with additional intra-group differences between white female elites and female elites of color. Feminist political scientists have long critiqued the way women in politics are portrayed in the media as these narratives facilitate public-political conversation and therefore perceptions of women in office. This project contributes to the media literature on gender and politics by analyzing editorial treatment of two female elite groups: women lawmakers in the U.S. Congress and the U.K. House of Commons. I build two original datasets of editorials and opinions pieces from reputable and widely read U.S. and U.K. newspapers collected with LexisNexis (n = 120 for each group). My data is extensively coded with Amazon Mechanical Turk. The study tests four hypotheses: whether editorial scrutiny arises from sexist treatment determined by language (using dictionary resources from Daku & Conroy and Roberts & Utych), party, positionality on a policy issue, or as a result of time and evolving media expectations. This work adds to the understanding within the discipline of how and when misogynist and racist treatment of female elites occurs in news media.

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