Skip navigation
The Australian National University

Gender bias in Australian media

New research from PhD candidate and Gender Institute member Blair Williams, from the ANU School of Politics and International Studies, has found significant gender bias in Australia's political media. The research involved a contextual analysis of media coverage relating to the Julia Gillard's and Malcolm Turnbull's respective rises to the role of Prime Minister.

Ms Williams analysed 380 articles from three prominent Australian newspapers and found 58 per cent of articles about Julia Gillard becoming Prime Minister discussed her gender, with 44 per cent insinuating her femininity was not prime ministerial.

"Gillard experienced an abundance of gendered criticism," Ms Williams said. "Even some female journalists focused on her gender when they spoke about her positively, talking about her flawless skin or fashion.

Malcolm Turnbull's rise to Prime Minister in similar circumstances has been presented very differently by the Australian media. "With Turnbull, articles said he 'claimed' or 'seized' the role, whereas Gillard was portrayed as being a backstabber or as disloyal.

"Men are allowed to play the 'Canberra Game' of being ruthless, being aggressive, whereas women are reprimanded for doing so."

Ms Williams said her findings supported the theory that women are assumed to be naturally less competent than men. Read more here.

Updated:  7 November, 2012/Responsible Officer:  Convenor, Gender Institute/Page Contact:  Web manager, Gender Institute