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The European Journal of Communication Research

Ed. by Averbeck-Lietz, Stefanie / d'Haenens, Leen

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Volume 38, Issue 4


The vertical glass ceiling: Explaining female politicians’ underrepresentation in television news

Debby Vos
Published Online: 2013-10-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/commun-2013-0023


This study analyses television news coverage of female politicians in Flanders (Belgium). Women politicians receive less coverage than their male colleagues do. We investigate whether this gender bias can be explained by political differences between men and women or whether a real media bias exists. We examine ten possible explanations, which can be divided into two groups: characteristics of female politicians, such as their function, and of news features, such as the theme of the item. Overall, the lower level functions of female politicians largely determine their limited television news coverage. Nevertheless, female politicians still get less speaking time, even when controlling for all ten variables. Thus, in addition to political gender differences, a real gender bias exists in Flemish television news: Female politicians receive less news coverage compared to male politicians with a similar political status.

Keywords: mediated politics; gender bias; television news; Belgium

About the article

Published Online: 2013-10-29

Published in Print: 2013-10-28

Citation Information: Communications, Volume 38, Issue 4, Pages 389–410, ISSN (Online) 1613-4087, ISSN (Print) 0341-2059, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/commun-2013-0023.

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