Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gender Is A Relative Term In Politics, Study Finds

Date:
October 1, 2008
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
For only the second time in presidential debate history, a female nominee will take the stage to spar with a male opponent. A revealing study has found that male and female candidates, when debating head-to-head, actually adopt each other's traditional communication styles.

For only the second time in presidential debate history, a female nominee will take the stage to spar with a male opponent. While Geraldine Ferraro broke new ground in 1984, it has taken 24 years for another female to be included as part of a major party ticket. On Thursday night, the nation will be watching as vice presidential candidates Sarah Palin and Joe Biden clash in the vice presidential debate.

Related Articles


A revealing study by a University of Missouri researcher has found that male and female candidates, when debating head-to-head, actually adopt each other's traditional communication styles.

"In politics, the stereotypical 'masculine' traits of being tough and ambitious, as well as having strong leadership and administrative skills, are more highly valued over the so-called 'feminine' traits of being compassionate and family-oriented, and possessing strong people skills," said Mitchell McKinney, associate professor of communication at MU, who conducted the study along with Mary Banwart, communication professor at the University of Kansas.

The study, published in the journal Communication Studies, examined candidates engaged in televised, mixed-gender campaign debates, which included U.S. Senate and gubernatorial debates. McKinney found that female candidates were more likely to use so-called "masculine" communication strategies than their male counterparts. Conversely, it was the male candidates who frequently adopted a "feminine style" in their debate responses.

According to McKinney, female candidates issued personal attacks of their male opponents in their debate responses 58 percent of the time, compared with male candidates who attacked their female opponents in 45 percent of their debate responses. Female candidates were more likely to raise traditional "masculine" issues, such as crime, defense, taxes and budget issues, than male candidates and it was the female candidates who were more likely to tout their own experience and accomplishments.

"By being the more aggressive debater, shying away from the so-called 'feminine' issues and adopting strategies that focus on their experience, these women are trying to overcome traditional notions that question a female candidate's governing competence. They also are challenging the stereotype that male candidates possess greater strength or political ability and have greater political experience," McKinney said.

Male candidates were more likely to emphasize feminine traits, such as sensitivity and cooperation, in selling themselves. Men were more likely to address so-called "feminine" issues, such as women's issues, health care and education, than the female candidates.

"This study suggests that when female and male candidates meet face-to-face on the debate stage, both seem mindful of gendered stereotypes and respond with a strategy of gendered adaptiveness – with each adopting communication strategies and styles characteristically attributed to the opposite gender," McKinney said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Gender Is A Relative Term In Politics, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080930135253.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2008, October 1). Gender Is A Relative Term In Politics, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080930135253.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Gender Is A Relative Term In Politics, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080930135253.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 19, 2014) The hacking attack on Sony Pictures has U.S. government officials weighing their response to the cyber-attack. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that NORAD is ready to track Santa Claus as he delivers gifts next week. Speaking tongue-in-cheek, he said if Santa drops anything off his sleigh, "we've got destroyers out there to pick them up." (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins