It’s a man’s world at the top: gendered media representations of Julia Gillard and Helen Clark

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Australia’s first woman prime minister, Julia Gillard, experienced widespread sexism and misogyny in the media coverage of her ascension. Only a decade previously New Zealand’s first elected woman prime minister, Helen Clark, rose to the top job with comparably little gendered coverage. This article compares how the print media portrayed Gillard and Clark in the first three weeks of their respective prime ministerial terms to understand why, despite both being leaders from centre-left Labor/Labour parties, there was such a significant difference in their media treatment. Three newspapers from each country were analysed using a feminist content analysis, in addition to interviews conducted with Gillard and Clark, to understand why this was the case. This study establishes that there were two key reasons: the political context in which both leaders ascended and the stark differences in the print media landscapes, particularly the conservatism of the Australian press.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)780-799
Number of pages20
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • gendered mediation
  • Helen Clark
  • Julia Gillard
  • Murdoch
  • tabloids

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