Journal article

More Than Just Gender : Exploring Contextual Influences on Media Bias of Political Candidates

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  • The International Journal of Press/Politics. - SAGE Publications. - 2020, vol. 25, no. 4, p. 692-711
English Gender bias in the media coverage of political elections has long been theorized as a major obstacle to women’s success in elections and their institutional representation. However, this view of persistent media bias against women politicians is increasingly subject to pressure by inconsistent evidence of size and patterns of gender bias. This paper argues that some of these inconsistencies derive from a lack of attention to contextual influences of electoral coverage. This study analyzes gender bias in the amount and content of media coverage in the run-up to Swiss federal elections in 2015 by means of a quantitative content analysis. Drawing on an extensive sample of print, online and audiovisual election coverage from the most important tabloid and broadsheet media of three different language regions, the results reveal mixed evidence of gender bias: On the one hand, women candidates remain underrepresented in Swiss media. On the other hand, however, once they are covered by the media, candidates are overwhelmingly presented in a gender-neutral way. Several differences emerge between language regions and media type. Extending the traditional gender bias hypothesis to account for contextual influences, the study illustrates that the geo-cultural and media-specific contextual influences of election coverage impinge on the gendered mediation of candidates together with known drivers of political communication, such as incumbency, the electoral system, and party ideology.
Faculté des sciences économiques et sociales et du management
Département des sciences de la communication et des médias
  • English
Information, communication and media sciences
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