Public humanities: “Women who ran for Congress avoided women’s issues in their campaign ads”

Authored by Shawn Parry-Giles, Aya H. Farhat, Matthew Salzano, and Skye de Saint Felix for The Conversation.

The journalistic story we wrote stems from research we did, along with other researchers, for the Political Action Research Center at the University of Maryland’s Rosenker Center for Political Communication. View the full-length research paper here.

Below is an excerpt from The Conversation; you can read the full journalistic summary of our report that we wrote on their website.

A record number of women were sworn into Congress on Jan. 3.

The influx of women candidates helped turn the midterm election into what many observers dubbed a “Year of the Woman.”

But despite a tide of voter sentiment favoring women, these winners got to Congress or a statehouse not by defining themselves as “women’s candidates,” but instead by sidestepping issues typically associated with their gender, from equal pay to reproductive freedom.

We are experts on women and politics, and in a recent study we conducted at the University of Maryland’s Rosenker Center for Political Communication & Civic Leadership, we examined 2018 political ads to understand how woman defined their candidacies and qualifications for office.

We found that, despite the momentum of the #MeToo movement, women were careful in playing the “gender card.” They avoided what are often construed as “women’s issues” that are associated with gender equality such as abortion, pay equity, sexual violence and harassment.

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