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Framing the First Spanish Parity Government in the Press.

Nuria Fernández García
Guillem Rico
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Open Panel

Abstract

Studies examining newspaper coverage of elections have found female candidates to be disadvantaged as compared with their male counterparts, as women tend to attract lower overall attention and to receive less substantive coverage than men. Comparative research on the media treatment of male and female heads of government has reached similar results. Yet little systematic analysis has been devoted to the coverage of female members of government cabinets. This paper explores the media treatment of cabinet members in Spain. Women politicians have become increasingly visible in Spanish public life and in the media. In 2004 a gender-balanced cabinet was formed for the first time, and recently women have been appointed to cabinet positions in areas that had traditionally been restricted to men, such as Defense and Economy. Based on a sample of news articles from the four main Spanish newspapers that cover the right – left ideological spectrum, I examine the media treatment of the first government of Socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (2004-2008), the first Spanish cabinet with the same number of women and men. The analysis compares the coverage of male and female members in quantitative and qualitative terms, focusing on 1) the visibility and prominence of each cabinet member; 2) mentions of their personal traits policy positions, appearance, and private life; and 3) the general tone and style of the report. The study presents new evidence on the differential treatment of women politicians by the media in the context of everyday politics beyond campaigns and elections.