Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Historical & Political Studies; College of Arts & Sciences
Dr. Amy Widestrom
Although women comprise over half of the population of the United States, they are vastly underrepresented in all levels of American government. This paper seeks a possible explanation for the small number of females in American political leadership positions. Some scholars have suggested that media portrays female candidates negatively, which influences public opinion negatively. This paper examines the extent to which this is the case, analyzing articles about Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Nikki Haley, Wendy Davis, and their male opponents from The Washington Post and The New York Times for examples of media framing, media bias, and reporting using gender stereotypes. In this paper, I also analyze public opinion polls concerning perceived electability and likability of the candidates to gauge public opinion. My analysis finds examples of media framing, media bias, and reporting using gender stereotypes in every article about the female candidates, and that these were applied to female candidates at higher rates than to their male counterparts. Additionally, for Clinton, Palin, and Davis, perceived electability and likability decreased over time. Media about Haley contained the fewest examples of negative media portrayal and her poll numbers were more positive.
Martin, Mary Kate, "Pantsuits and Public Opinion: An Analysis of Media Coverage of U.S. Female Political Candidates" (2016). Senior Capstone Theses. 20.