Advocacy Campaigns and Gender Bias in Media Coverage of Elections

31.10.2023 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Theresa Gessler
Lecturer affiliation: 
Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder)

An important feature of women's underrepresentation in politics is are differences in the media portrayal of female candidates. This paper studies how political campaigns may affect such bias, leveraging the 2019 Swiss federal elections, which were shaped by two nation-wide, cross-party campaigns advocating for women's rights. The empirical analysis compares the 2015 and 2019 election campaigns, relying on an original dataset of the mentions that all candidates (over 3,700 respectively 4,600) received in over 2.2 million news articles. The analysis produces three main results. First, although in both elections male candidates received more media attention than female candidates did, the gender gap was significantly smaller in 2019 than in 2015. Second, in both elections, male and female candidates tended to be mentioned in conjunction with gender-stereotypical topics. Third, the gender gap in media attention before and after a key women's rights event was similar to that between the corresponding periods in 2015. These findings suggest that the differences observed between 2015 and 2019 are linked to the political campaign at large rather than to a specific event, despite its historical dimensions. The results contribute to the understanding of how advocacy campaigns can change bias in media coverage and, methodologically, to measuring and understanding gendered media coverage of politics.