Lunch Knowledge Shot XI: Mara Olmo about media representation of women politicans

Name and grade of the researcher: Mara Olmo, Master in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts (27.1.2022)

Title of the dissertation: Examining media representation of women politicians through the portrayal of Luxembourg Minister of Health Paulette Lenert in Luxembourgish newspapers during the Covid-19 pandemic

The global coronavirus pandemic generated the need for political leaders to react to and deal with the sanitary crisis which resulted in distinctive and compelling conversations, especially in the media. At the beginning of 2020, just before the pandemic, a new female Minister of Health was appointed in Luxembourg which offered the opportunity to analyse attitudes and stereotypes related to gender in print media as the latter exert a considerable influence on society.
Consequently, this study aims to explore which and how topics were constructed in two Luxembourgish newspapers in relation to the portrayal of female leaders during the coronavirus crisis. More precisely, the focus of this thesis is on the media representation of Minister of Health Paulette Lenert, who was relatively unknown before the crisis and was quickly elected the most popular politician of the country in July 2020 (RTL Journal, 2020). Firstly, data was retrieved from online articles from two Luxembourgish newspapers with the highest circulation in the country and with different political inclinations – namely Luxemburger Wort and Tageblatt. The starting point of this study is the selection of the new Minister of Health in January 2020 and the ending point is the second coronavirus-wave in summer 2020. Based on theoretical and methodological frameworks of gender and media studies, as well as thematic analysis, data was analysed in a mainly qualitative manner. The goal is to make on one hand a contribution to the research on newspapers, and more generally, of the media in Luxembourg. On the other hand, this study aims to provide findings to the under-researched gender studies in Luxembourg by analysing the media portrayal of a female minister.

It can be suggested that even though stereotypes about gender have become less explicit in the media, women are still implicitly marked as female. This can have negative or positive consequences on the assessment of the professional and human competences of the Minister of Health that might not be as obvious when talking about male political leaders. It has however been noted that a certain progress was made concerning the status of women politicians in the media.


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