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Leading ladies: discursive constructions of women leaders in the UK media

Tischner, Irmgard; Malson, Helen; Fey, Kelly


Irmgard Tischner

Helen Malson
Associate Professor in Social Psychology

Kelly Fey


Women continue to be economically disadvantaged and under-represented in positions of power and leadership. A discursive disjunction between cultural and media representations of women and leadership has been implicated in these continuing inequalities. We address this issue through an analysis of the ways in which prominent women leaders were portrayed in a UK radio series, BBC Radio 4’s “Profile” broadcast between July 2011 and July 2013. Verbatim transcripts of 12 broadcasts featuring women were analysed within a critical feminist framework, to explore the ways in which these women leaders were discursively constructed. Our analysis explicates three constructions of “women leaders”: as “traditionally” feminine; as having to balance “masculine” and “feminine” attributes; and as exceptional women who may nevertheless fail. We conclude that the impact of equality legislation continues to be limited while androcentric norms prevail and that we therefore need more gynocentric ways of imagining women leaders.


Tischner, I., Malson, H., & Fey, K. (in press). Leading ladies: discursive constructions of women leaders in the UK media. Feminist Media Studies, 1-17.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 2, 2019
Online Publication Date Jul 10, 2019
Deposit Date Dec 19, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jan 11, 2021
Journal Feminist Media Studies
Print ISSN 1468-0777
Electronic ISSN 1471-5902
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 1-17
Keywords Communication; Visual Arts and Performing Arts; Gender Studies
Public URL
Additional Information Peer Review Statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope.; Aim & Scope:; Received: 2018-05-15; Revised: 2019-05-31; Accepted: 2019-07-02; Published: 2019-07-10


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