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Works Well with Others: Gendered Mediation of Collaborative Leadership Skills
Linda Trimble, Jennifer Curtin, Meagan Auer, Angelia Wagner & V.K.G. Woodman
This research note reports an intriguing finding, reached inductively from textual analysis of newspaper coverage of the leadership attributes of 22 women and men premiers in Australia and Canada. When introducing these newly selected subnational government leaders to the public, journalists articulated their capacity to work well with others as an important leadership competency. Women and men premiers alike were described as inclusive, conciliatory, and consultative, and these qualities were highlighted as integral to effective decision-making and sound governance practices. Our research challenges a central proposition of the gendered mediation thesis: that news coverage of political leaders foregrounds and lauds the agentic qualities traditionally associated with men and masculinity while downplaying and denigrating communal qualities linked to women and femininity. Evidence of media attention to and praise for collaborative leadership traits indicates a feminization of politics that disrupts gender stereotypes in a manner helpful to women’s political ambition.
Full citation: Trimble, L., Curtin, J., Auer, M., Wagner, A., & Woodman, V.K.G. (2022). Works Well with Others: Gendered Mediation of Collaborative Leadership Skills. Journal of Women, Politics & Policy 43(2), 245-255.
Representations of Political Leadership Qualities in News Coverage of Australian and Canadian Government Leaders
Angelia Wagner, Linda Trimble, Jennifer Curtin, Meagan Auer, and V.K.G. Woodman
How do the media depict the leadership abilities of government leaders, and in what ways are these depictions gendered? Does the focus of leadership evaluations change over time, reflecting the increased presence of women in top leadership roles? To answer these questions, we examined news coverage of 22 subnational government leaders in Australia and Canada, countries in which a significant number of women have achieved the premiership at the state or provincial level since 2007. Analysis demonstrates that newly elected women and men leaders receive approximately the same number of leadership evaluations. Women are assessed based on the same criteria as men. All subnational political leaders are expected to be competent, intelligent, and levelheaded. That journalists prioritize experience and strength while downplaying honesty and compassion indicates a continued emphasis on “masculine” leadership norms in politics. Yet evaluations of new premiers have emphasized the traditionally “feminine” trait of collaboration as key to effective leadership and, over time, have given more attention to likability and emotions when covering male premiers. As our analysis reveals, media conceptualizations of political leadership competencies are slowly expanding in ways that make it easier for women to be seen as effective political leaders.
Full citation: Wagner, A., Trimble, L., Curtin, J., Auer, M., & Woodman, V.K.G. (2021). Representations of Political Leadership Qualities in News Coverage of Australian and Canadian Government Leaders. Politics & Gender, 1-32. doi: 10.1017/S1743923X21000131
Auer, M. Trimble, L., Curtin, J., Wagner, A., & Woodman, V.K.G. (2020). Invoking the Idealized Family to Assess Political Leadership and Legitimacy: News Coverage of Australian and Canadian Premiers. Feminist Media Studies, 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777 .2020.1790627
Auer, M. Sutcliffe, J., & Lee, M. (2019). Framing the ‘White Widow’: Using Intersectionality to Uncover Complex Representations of Female Terrorism. Media, War & Conflict, 12(3): 281-298. https://doi.org/10.1177/1750635218769931
Trimble, L., Curtin, J., Wagner, A., Auer, M., & Woodman, V.K.G. (2019). Gender, Novelty, and Media Personalization of Australian and Canadian Premiers. International Political Science Review, 42(2): 164-178. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192512119876083
Light, J. & Auer, M. (2020). WebSafe: Tools for Newcomers to Counter Digital Disinformation. CONTACT Magazine 47(1): 12-20. Open Access: http://contact.teslontario.org/issues/spring-2021/
Sammons, E., Auer, M., & D’Orazio, D. (2022, April 29). Enhancing teaching and pedagogy in graduate education.” University Affairs. https://www.universityaffairs.ca/career-advice/career-advice-article/enhancing-teaching-and-pedagogical-development-in-graduate-education/
Trimble, L., Auer, M., & Wagner, A. (2019, March 5). How the media makes sense of mothers in power.” Policy Options. http://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/march-2019/media-makes-sense-mothers-power/