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Genderstereotypen in politiek nieuws : een inhoudsanalyse naar de representatie van vrouwelijke politieke kandidaten in de Vlaamse pers

Joke D'Heer (UGent) and Sarah Van Leuven (UGent)
(2019)
Author
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Abstract
The representation of female politicians has been the subject of many studies within the field of feminist media studies. These studies have focused on the presence and portrayal of female politicians in the news (Aday & Devitt, 2001; Hooghe e.a., 2015; Kahn, 1994; Banwart e.a., 2003; Bystrom e.a., 2004). They almost unanimously report a numerical underrepresentation of female politicians, as well as a biased qualitative representation. This biased representation highlights stereotypical characteristics associated with women and links female politicians to the private sphere. Moreover, studies report a greater attention to female politicians their age, appearance and gender in comparison to their male peers. These types of representation are not innocent, as research has demonstrated that a lessened and biased representation can lead to a reduction of votes (Bystrom e.a., 2004; Goldenberg & Traugott, 1987). Additionally, it can reduce the will of female adolescents to get politically active (Campbell & Wolbrecht, 2006). Though studies are plentiful, only a very limited number has focused on Flanders (De Vuyst e.a., 2015; Hooghe e.a., 2015; Vos, 2013). Furthermore, research on the qualitative representation of Flemish female politicians is lacking entirely as well as research on their representation in an electoral context. This study addresses these shortcomings by means of a quantitative content analysis. It studies the numerical as well as the qualitative representation of female and male politicians by focusing on articles that report on newly announced candidatures during times of election. 390 pieces of news were analyzed on the candidatures for two federal (2007, 2014) as well as two local elections (2012, 2018). The articles were collected from four Flemish newspapers: De Morgen, Het Laatste Nieuws, Het Nieuwsblad and De Standaard. The results confirm the unequal representation of female politicians in Flanders. Numerically, male politicians are almost twice as often represented and articles about female politicians are shorter in length. The overrepresentation of male politicians is striking, considering the Belgian use of gender quota. These quota guarantee an equal representation of male and female politicians on electoral lists. The study partly explains this finding by the greater share of male politicians in more important candidatures (top or bottom of the electoral list). Since important candidatures are more newsworthy, they generally receive more coverage. Qualitatively, female politicians receive more attention to their age and their roles in the private sphere. Their marital status as well as parental role is significantly more often mentioned. These results are similar to earlier research and highlight the dichotomy between male and female, as well as between private and public sphere. However, not all results confirm earlier findings. No differences were found in the language used to describe male and female politicians and in the number of explicit references to their gender. A nuance to this last finding, is that the way gender was referenced was more neutral for male than for female politicians (e.g. ‘front man’ vs. ‘female politician’). Still, these results suggest a more equal representation compared to earlier studies. Lastly, this study highlights the usefulness of taking different elections into account. The coverage on local elections shows a more biased representation than the coverage on federal elections does, with more references to gender and personal information. With these results, the study contributes to the lacking field of studies on the representation of female politicians in Flanders. It sets a first base for research in this region and asks for more awareness in the newsroom. Specifically, journalists should be more knowledgeable of the influence gendered reporting has on voters’ behavior and act accordingly.
Keywords
gender, representation, feminist media studies, politicians, political candidates

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Citation

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MLA
D’Heer, Joke, and Sarah Van Leuven. “Genderstereotypen in Politiek Nieuws : Een Inhoudsanalyse Naar De Representatie Van Vrouwelijke Politieke Kandidaten in De Vlaamse Pers.” 2019. Print.
APA
D’Heer, J., & Van Leuven, S. (2019). Genderstereotypen in politiek nieuws : een inhoudsanalyse naar de representatie van vrouwelijke politieke kandidaten in de Vlaamse pers. Presented at the Etmaal.
Chicago author-date
D’Heer, Joke, and Sarah Van Leuven. 2019. “Genderstereotypen in Politiek Nieuws : Een Inhoudsanalyse Naar De Representatie Van Vrouwelijke Politieke Kandidaten in De Vlaamse Pers.” In .
Chicago author-date (all authors)
D’Heer, Joke, and Sarah Van Leuven. 2019. “Genderstereotypen in Politiek Nieuws : Een Inhoudsanalyse Naar De Representatie Van Vrouwelijke Politieke Kandidaten in De Vlaamse Pers.” In .
Vancouver
1.
D’Heer J, Van Leuven S. Genderstereotypen in politiek nieuws : een inhoudsanalyse naar de representatie van vrouwelijke politieke kandidaten in de Vlaamse pers. 2019.
IEEE
[1]
J. D’Heer and S. Van Leuven, “Genderstereotypen in politiek nieuws : een inhoudsanalyse naar de representatie van vrouwelijke politieke kandidaten in de Vlaamse pers,” presented at the Etmaal, Nijmegen, 2019.
@inproceedings{8591752,
  abstract     = {The representation of female politicians has been the subject of many studies within the field of feminist media studies. These studies have focused on the presence and portrayal of female politicians in the news (Aday & Devitt, 2001; Hooghe e.a., 2015; Kahn, 1994; Banwart e.a., 2003; Bystrom e.a., 2004). They almost unanimously report a numerical underrepresentation of female politicians, as well as a biased qualitative representation. This biased representation highlights stereotypical characteristics associated with women and links female politicians to the private sphere. Moreover, studies report a greater attention to female politicians their age, appearance and gender in comparison to their male peers. These types of representation are not innocent, as research has demonstrated that a lessened and biased representation can lead to a reduction of votes (Bystrom e.a., 2004; Goldenberg & Traugott, 1987). Additionally, it can reduce the will of female adolescents to get politically active (Campbell & Wolbrecht, 2006). 

Though studies are plentiful, only a very limited number has focused on Flanders (De Vuyst e.a., 2015; Hooghe e.a., 2015; Vos, 2013). Furthermore, research on the qualitative representation of Flemish female politicians is lacking entirely as well as research on their representation in an electoral context. This study addresses these shortcomings by means of a quantitative content analysis. It studies the numerical as well as the qualitative representation of female and male politicians by focusing on articles that report on newly announced candidatures during times of election. 390 pieces of news were analyzed on the candidatures for two federal (2007, 2014) as well as two local elections (2012, 2018). The articles were collected from four Flemish newspapers: De Morgen, Het Laatste Nieuws, Het Nieuwsblad and De Standaard. 

The results confirm the unequal representation of female politicians in Flanders. Numerically, male politicians are almost twice as often represented and articles about female politicians are shorter in length. The overrepresentation of male politicians is striking, considering the Belgian use of gender quota. These quota guarantee an equal representation of male and female politicians on electoral lists. The study partly explains this finding by the greater share of male politicians in more important candidatures (top or bottom of the electoral list). Since important candidatures are more newsworthy, they generally receive more coverage. 

Qualitatively, female politicians receive more attention to their age and their roles in the private sphere. Their marital status as well as parental role is significantly more often mentioned. These results are similar to earlier research and highlight the dichotomy between male and female, as well as between private and public sphere. However, not all results confirm earlier findings. No differences were found in the language used to describe male and female politicians and in the number of explicit references to their gender. A nuance to this last finding, is that the way gender was referenced was more neutral for male than for female politicians (e.g. ‘front man’ vs. ‘female politician’). Still, these results suggest a more equal representation compared to earlier studies. Lastly, this study highlights the usefulness of taking different elections into account. The coverage on local elections shows a more biased representation than the coverage on federal elections does, with more references to gender and personal information. 

With these results, the study contributes to the lacking field of studies on the representation of female politicians in Flanders. It sets a first base for research in this region and asks for more awareness in the newsroom. Specifically, journalists should be more knowledgeable of the influence gendered reporting has on voters’ behavior and act accordingly.},
  author       = {D'Heer, Joke and Van Leuven, Sarah},
  keywords     = {gender,representation,feminist media studies,politicians,political candidates},
  location     = {Nijmegen},
  title        = {Genderstereotypen in politiek nieuws : een inhoudsanalyse naar de representatie van vrouwelijke politieke kandidaten in de Vlaamse pers},
  year         = {2019},
}