Society & Culture
When women leaders have unconventional family lives, the media responds by trying to fit them into more stereotypical boxes, say researchers.
When asked to draw a picture of a leader, most people draw a man. If asked to draw a portrait of a political leader’s family, most people would depict this man surrounded by his loyal wife and adoring children. These pictures would not be far from reality. Most government leaders are men whose wives and children have proven to be invaluable political accessories.
But this taken-for-granted picture of the politician’s family rests on the outdated assumption that men take charge of business and political affairs, while women take care of the household. What happens when women rise to elite political positions, and how are their familial roles reported by the media?
Our research has answered these questions by analyzing news reports about six former and current Canadian premiers who happen to be mothers. Unlike most female governmen...