Views not shoes: monitoring sexism in General Election news

‘Sleek as an otter’, the ‘Downing Street Catwalk’, ‘Cameron’s Cuties’, ‘Brown’s Sugars’ and ‘Blair’s Babes’ are just some of the terms that have been used  by the media to describe women politicians in the UK parliament.

Who is designing Theresa May’s outfits, what Sam Cameron is up to and whether Margaret Hodge wears Jimmy Choo, dominate some sections of the press during election times.

The Fawcett Society, the UK’s leading gender equality charity, thinks it’s time for the press to start dealing with the issues and stop commenting on the ridiculous.

During this election campaign, the Fawcett Society in partnership with academics from Bournemouth and Huddersfield universities will be monitoring and highlighting how the media cover women candidates.

The charity wants to know how women politicians are reported in the media and is asking the general public to help to find out:

  • Whether the views of women politicians are reported by the media rather than their clothes, shoes or hair
  • Whether women politicians receive the same level of coverage as their male counterparts
  • Whether women politicians are pigeonholed into discussing ‘women’s issues’ such as education and childcare and side-lined from discussion on, for instance, defence or the economy
  • Whether there is more coverage of the leaders’ wives than women who are standing for election in their own right.

Fawcett Chair Belinda Phipps, said:

“We see more coverage of the leaders’ wives and what female politicians look like than reporting of the views and campaigns of women in politics.

“The media need to get real.  More than half of the population of the UK is women and women can, and will, influence who forms the next government.”

The Fawcett Society can’t watch every news programme on every TV channel, listen to every radio report across every local radio station, read every local newspaper and monitor every website in the country. So it is asking for everyone who wants to see women politicians taken seriously to join them by using Twitter hashtag #viewsnotshoes and let us and women candidates know how they are being portrayed.

Belinda went on to say:“If you read a sexist election story in your local paper,  see something online or hear something on the radio which offends, please let us know either by tweeting at #viewsnotshoes or email us at”.

The Fawcett Society will use the information to encourage even-handed reporting and will publish a full analysis of the findings.

More information on our campaigns page

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