Italian Political Communication and Gender Bias: Press Representations of Men/Women Presidents of the Houses of Parliament (1979, 1994, and 2013)

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

1 Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

2 National Institute for Health, Migration and Poverty, Italy

Abstract

The study considers mass media communication as intertwined with social norms, as assumed by the perspective of social representations. It explores the Italian press communication by focusing on three pairs of men and women politicians with different political orientations and all serving as presidents of the Houses of Parliament in three legislatures. The article concentrates on five newspapers in order to sound out the presence of a possible gender bias in favor of men in the coverage. It explores the strategic use of language to enhance or penalize the role of women politicians. In order to scrutinize the role of gender visibility and discrimination, the study compares how women and men presidents are named and examines the linguistic sexism/nonsexism used for women politicians also in relation to the ideological/cultural orientations of newspapers. Thereby, 591 headlines were collected and analyzed with SPAD-T statistical package. The results, for some cases, confirm the trends revealed in the international literature, in other cases, disprove expectations.

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