Female politicians are portrayed more negatively than male colleagues, new research has found.
I find it deeply concerning and rather astonishing that the media still present women so negatively and do so with little consideration of the consequences . It’s hardly surprising that women don’t feel particularly encouraged to participate in the political process and feel totally alienated as a result.
The researchers from Bournemouth University and Leeds Trinity University suggested that women receive less favourable coverage than men because it is assumed that men stand for, and represent, the whole population.
However, it’s not only within the press that we find consistent negative representations of women. Women in many different areas of public life are regularly attacked in some of the most abhorrent ways on social media. It is well documented that ‘internet trolls’, as they are known, use abusive and misogynistic language and threaten women who dare to give their opinion. There have been some high profile cases recently which thankfully resulted in convictions.
One of the researchers, Dr Heather Savigny summed up her findings rather well and said the result of such negative coverage meant women voters were both disengaged and left feeling un represented in Parliament, “the invidious trend affects the democratic process, whereby women voters feel unrepresented in Parliament and turn away from political engagement,” she said.
The researchers suggested a move towards print journalists being more conscious of including women in media coverage and reflect on how they present women. Their recommendations included the creation of a media monitoring group, comprising politicians, media representatives and academics.