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14 March 2018

BrandsEye data key to new study on gender and political discourse online

BrandsEye has provided data to a new study by Atalanta, a UK-based social enterprise dedicated to increasing women’s representation in government. The study revealed significant differences in the way that female and male political leaders are discussed online. The report comprises a social media analysis from BrandsEye and interviews with prominent female politicians and campaign strategists.

Speaking about the release of the report, Atalanta Founder & CEO Eva Barboni said: “Sexism and abuse are everyday occurrences for many female politicians who are active online. This takes a heavy toll on both the politicians themselves and on our broader democratic debate, particularly when it escalates from harassment to threats. However, despite the pitfalls, digital campaigning still offers significant benefits for female candidates, which should not be overlooked.”

For the study, BrandsEye’s Crowd of human contributors coded and verified 27 952 tweets about high-profile male and female political leaders. BrandsEye’s CEO, Jean Pierre Kloppers said “Social media is a rich source of volunteered public opinion data that has until now proven challenging to organise into decipherable insights. By combining AI and human intelligence, we are able to gather accurate insights that empower leaders of the world to understand and engage with the key issues driving public sentiment.”

The report provides in-depth analysis of tweets about three pairs of female and male political leaders in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Chile.

Key findings include:

  • Women were 3.4 times more likely than men to experience gender-related derogatory comments.
  • 74.1% of comments related to political leaders’ appearance and 71.8% of comments related to their marital status were directed towards women. Such comments were also more negative towards women than towards their male counterparts.
  • In gendered conversations about political leaders, male authors dominated the conversation, contributing at least twice as many comments as female authors

The report also includes interviews with both female politicians and campaign strategists, and draws upon recent research and policy proposals focused on strategies for tackling online harassment and abuse.