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Framing gender on the campaign trail: Female gubernatorial candidates and the press

June 2002

James Devitt


This article found that male and female candidates for governor receive roughly the same amounts of media coverage, but they also receive different types of coverage. Male candidates received more issue coverage and female candidates received more personal coverage. However, the study found that much of this may be due to incumbency. The author suggested incomers may receive more personal coverage because they need to be “introduced” to the electorate first. The study also found evidence that male journalists held significant bias towards female candidates, while female journalists held none.

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Policy Implications

These discrepancies between how male and female candidates are treated in the media may have electoral consequences. Covering personal issues adds little to the campaign and does not provide meaningful information to voters. When there is an increase in this type of coverage for women candidates, it creates a gap between them and male opponents. This gap can lead to less support for women and fewer women elected.

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