We’ve all observed instances of how media portrayals of female politicians are different than that of their male counterparts. Linda Trimble goes beyond the anecdotes and conducts rigorous, in-depth research on the press coverage of these women.
Trimble is a political science professor at the U of A and she talks to us about her new book, Ms. Prime Minister: Gender, Media, and Leadership and her analysis of 2,500 newspaper articles in the Globe & Mail.
In her book, Trimble looks at four female prime ministers, in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The award for the country with the most sexist coverage of a female politician goes to…Australia. Trimble examines how the country’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, was accused of starting a “gender war” for a history-making speech about a political opponent’s history of misogyny.
Trimble also breaks down the media coverage of female federal leadership candidates in Canada, going back to 1975 when Rosemary Brown ran for the top job with the NDP. Trimble found that women were more likely to be “personalized” in media coverage than men — but only on three indicators: their marital status; their level of sexual attractiveness; and their looks.
She talks about how women pursuing positions of leadership need to figure out ways to “position their quest as heroic,” in order to own the narrative surrounding their leadership runs.
We also talk about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who recently announced her pregnancy. An article from the Guardian on the announcement was refreshing. It is posted below.