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Free Content Mediated ambition? Gender, news and the desire to seek elected office

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A gender gap in nascent political ambition is among the best documented in political behaviour. Although the reasons for this gender gap are numerous, it has often been speculated that the media might be partly responsible for suppressing ambition among women. Considerable evidence shows that women in politics are generally subject to more attention being paid to their appearance, marital status and sex than their male counterparts. Does this kind of media coverage dampen political ambition? We test this possibility in two experimental studies. In Study 1, we explore whether overtly sexualised coverage regarding the appearance of politicians can dampen political ambition, while Study 2 considers whether media coverage focusing on the private lives of politicians (specifically parental/marital status) affects political ambition. This two-study approach allows us to consider whether media coverage of political officials is related to political ambition and whether different types of media coverage have different effects.
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Keywords: gender and politics; gendered mediation; media; political ambition; political psychology; representation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Dalhousie University, Canada 2: University of Calgary, Canada 3: Carleton University, Canada

Publication date: February 2020

This article was made available online on November 7, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Mediated ambition? Gender, news and the desire to seek elected office".

More about this publication?
  • The European Journal of Politics and Gender (EJPG) is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes international, cutting-edge research in the broad field of politics and gender. EJPG is the flagship journal of the European Conference on Politics and Gender (ECPG).

    EJPG is firmly embedded in global politics and gender scholarship, its scope is not limited to Europe. EJPG aims to advance gender and politics research in all its diversity. To this end it publishes Research Articles in the wide field of gender and politics, including a variety of geographical and thematic foci, methods and epistemological traditions. Contributions may rely on single-country case studies as much as cross-national comparative work or theoretical debates. The core criterion for publication is innovation and rigorous argumentation. Articles must have a clear 'take home message'.

    EJPG understands gender as a political phenomenon that shapes power relations. Gender is contextual and is influenced by the intersection of multiple social categories and identities. The processes produce patterns of political inclusion and exclusion that are sometimes immediately visible, but often also hidden. EJPG therefore studies formal and informal components of politics in local, national, transnational and global realms. Subfields encompass, but are not limited to: social movements; representation; political participation; governance; public policy; the European Union; political economy; conflict and development; citizenship; LGBTQI politics; sexuality; and international relations.

    EJPG solicits State of the Art pieces, which provide timely analyses of developments in the many subfields of politics and gender. These contributions focus on salient and contemporary themes. What are new research puzzles and dilemmas? Finally, EJPG includes a Gender Updates section, in which short descriptive pieces present data or analyses related to elections, policy changes, and public debates on gender-related issues across Europe. This section is a valuable resource for scholars, students, activists, and practitioners who may use this data for research and interventions in policy and public debate.

    For questions and pre-submission enquiries, please contact the editorial team at: [email protected]

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