The study focuses on media representations of ten women ministers in two different Italian governments - six ministers of the center-left government led by Prodi in 2006 (Bindi, Bonino, Lanzillotta, Melandri, Pollastrini, Turco) and four ministers of the center-right led by Berlusconi in 2008 (Carfagna, Gelmini, Meloni, Prestigiacomo). These representations, monitored in 514 news headlines from five Italian newspapers (L’Unita, La Repubblica, Il Corriere della Sera, Il Tempo, Il Giornale), were analyzed according to a twofold comparative perspective centered on the role of ministers’ political affiliations and on the role of the source ideological and cultural orientation. The study also examines the use of sexist language by detecting the generic masculine and the specific feminine applied to the ministers. Textual data were processed with different steps of the statistical package SPAD- T for the analysis of the vocabulary and the lexicographic characterization of headlines relating to the ten ministers and the five daily papers in two years. In the analysis of the sexist language we found an over-utilization of the masculine generic by all dailies and a few cases of feminine specific, mainly by the left and center-left dailies. The language under observation was interpreted as a site of production, reproduction and dissemination of representations strongly permeated by gender stereotypes. Through this study, we have shown that these stereotypes, operating in a political context in which the role of women is still very marginal, contribute to crystallize women’s marginality, rather than providing incentives to overcome it and pave the way for greater women’s participation in politics.
Keywords: Sexist language, social representations and gender stereotypes, media, women in politics.
Gilda Sensales, Alessandra Areni, Alessandra Dal Secco, Sexist language and women’s representations in journalistic communication about female ministers of the prodi (2006) and berlusconi (2008) governments. A social-psychological analysis on headlines of the italian press with different cultural and ideological orientation in "RICERCHE DI PSICOLOGIA " 1/2013, pp. 65-101, DOI:10.3280/RIP2013-01003