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American Politics | Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Women's Studies


Claire Haeg, Political Science


As women are still underrepresented in legislative offices, it is important to examine the road it takes for them to get there. Many scholars have explored gender bias in the media when covering female candidates for elected office. Fowler and Lawless (2009) uncover bias in media coverage of candidates between 1990 and 1997 in Looking for Sex in All the Wrong Places: Press Coverage and the Electoral Fortunes of Gubernatorial Candidates. This paper replicates the method used by Fowler and Lawless (2009) to examine gubernatorial candidates between 2008 and 2014. The independent variable in my research is the gender bias in news coverage of candidates. The dependent variable in my research is successful candidacy. In order to identify any gender bias in news coverage of candidates, I will code articles from the most widely read newspapers in the gubernatorial candidate’s state for personal traits coverage, women’s issue coverage, personal background coverage, political background coverage, action coverage, and position coverage. By comparing my research with Fowler and Lawless, I find that many differences in the way male and female candidates are portrayed in newspaper articles can still be seen today. Using both female versus female and male versus female races, my findings suggest the possibility that females garner different coverage depending on the gender of their opponent. In addition, I find that females with the same experience as a male candidate are less successful in a gubernatorial race from 2008-2014. These findings suggest that, at the aggregate level, women receive a different type of media coverage than men and this may have an impact on the female candidate’s success.


Department Readers: Philip Kronebusch and Whitney Court