Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


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Tarte, N. (2021). With a female vice president in office, has media gender-bias left the presidential campaign trail? The short answer is no, and the reason why is deep rooted.


Copyright 2021 Nora Tarte


An examination of treatment in the media of female vice presidential candidates—Geraldine Ferraro (1984), Sarah Palin (2008) and Kamala Harris (2020)—surfaces a trend of gender bias perpetuated by subtly sexist language in all three campaigns. While society has made strides in equality in the 36 years between campaigns, the media treatment of Vice President Kamala Harris is not that far removed from the treatment of Geraldine Ferraro. The bias exists both overtly and subtly with obvious sexist language and more subtle forms of sexist language in coverage doled out by top media outlets, but subtle sexism is what often flies under the radar. Studies also show that media language surrounding candidates can have a pronounced effect on their electability. Much of the media bias can be traced to gender incongruency and the socially accepted norms of females and males and how those characteristics play into a candidate’s ability to serve in a high-powered political position.