The Misrepresented Road to Madame President: Media Coverage of Female Candidates for National Office
Pinckney, Jessica Nicole
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While women represent over fifty percent of the U.S. population, it is blatantly clear that they are not as equally represented in leadership positions in the government and in private institutions. Despite their representation throughout the nation, women only make up twenty percent of the House and Senate. That is far from a representative number and something that really hurts our society as a whole. While these inequalities exist, they are perpetuated by the world in which we live, where the media plays a heavy role in molding peoples’ opinions, both consciously and subconsciously. The way in which the media presents news about women is not always representative of the women themselves and influences public opinion a great deal, which can also affect women’s ability to rise to the top, thereby breaking the ultimate glass ceilings. This research looks at a number of cases in which female politicians ran for and/or were elected to political positions at the national level (President, Vice President, and Congress) and seeks to look at the progress, or lack thereof, in media’s portrayal of female candidates running for office. The overarching goal of the research is to simply show examples of biased and unbiased coverage and address the negative or positive ways in which that coverage influences the candidate. Ultimately, the research finds that female candidates running for the most highly revered leadership positions, such as President and Vice President, and those in positions of power who represent a step in history, such as Nancy Pelosi as the first female Speaker of the House, face increased biased media coverage in comparison to females running for House and Senate seats. By seeing this coverage throughout a body of research, it helps to shed light on the many ways in which media and society need to improve in regards to our discussions of women, whether they are political candidates or otherwise.