There is currently an observable gender gap associated with political leadership. Though many have tried, no woman has successfully campaigned for the presidency. Historically, media coverage of female candidates is vastly different from coverage of their male counterparts and it is well established that the media has significant control over public perception of candidates. This study examines media coverage of female candidates in an attempt to understand the rhetoric that consistently positions women as unelectable regardless of their experience or political prowess. This study analyzes post-debate commentary from the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2020 election beginning on June 26, 2019 using feminist critical discourse analysis. The findings do not indicate that traditionally feminine traits are seen as a good or bad quality but rather, they show how little these traits are acknowledged. While femininity was not discussed often, traditionally masculine traits were.

Date of publication

Fall 12-10-2020

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Jaclyn Marsh, Emily Scheinfeld, Terry Britt


Masters in Communication Studies