Female politicians in the British press: The exception to the ‘masculine’ norm?
Deirdre O’Neill, Leeds Trinity University and Heather Savigny, Bournemouth University
As educators of journalists we are concerned with some of the most fundamental questions about the relationship between the media and democracy, and this we argue, is gendered. Through content analysis and interviews we look at the ways in which women MPs are represented in the British Press. We show that the way in which they are reported (or ignored) positions them as different from the ‘male norm’ and this in turn has consequences for the ways in which democratic politics is written about by journalists and experienced by female MPs. A press representation of women that sometimes serves to suggest politics is a ‘man’s game’, where women are regarded as the aberrant, exception to the rule, can alienate women representatives and likely future candidates. This in turn may have negative consequences for the democratic process, whereby women voters feel unrepresented in Parliament and turn away from political engagement.