Introduction and Table of Media Literacy ActivitiesDefining Critical Media Literacy1. Foundations of the United States Political SystemDemocracy in Social Media Policies and Community StandardsThe Internet as a Public Utility21st Century Women STEM InnovatorsMedia Coverage of the RoyalsRepresentations of Native Americans on Film and in Local History Publications2. The Development of United States GovernmentPromoting a Declaration of Independence on Social MediaMarketing and Regulating Self-Driving CarsRepresentations of and Racism Toward Black Americans in the MediaPolitical Debates Through Songs from Hamilton: An American MusicalTweeting the Bill of Rights3. Institutions of United States GovernmentHollywood Movies About the Branches of GovernmentWriting an Impeachment Press ReleaseHow Members of Congress Use Social MediaPolitical Impacts of Public Opinion PollsDesigning a Website for a New Political Party4. The Rights and Responsibilities of CitizensImmigration in the NewsPortrayals of Immigrants in Television and FilmEvaluating Information About COVID-19Women Political Leaders in the MediaMedia Use by Advocacy Organizations and Special Interest GroupsDigital Games for Civic EngagementSocial Media and the ElectionsMedia Spin in the Coverage of Political DebatesCelebrities' Influence on PoliticsPolitical Activism Through Social MediaRecruiting Workers for Public Sector JobsImages of Teachers and TeachingTransgender Representation in the MediaMedia Framing of the Events of January 6, 2021Music as Protest ArtPACs, Super PACs, and Unions in the Media5. The Constitution, Amendments and Supreme Court DecisionsMedia For and Against ProhibitionThe Equal Rights Amendment on Social MediaNews Stories and Advertisements from the Civil WarRepresentations of Gender and Race on CurrencyTweeting For and Against the Equality ActReading Supreme Court Dissents AloudDebating Cameras in the Courtroom6. The Structure of State and Local GovernmentNative American Mascots and LogosWriting a Constitution for the InternetMilitary Recruitment and the MediaYour Privacy on Social MediaState Government Use of Media During the COVID-19 PandemicGendered Language in Media Coverage of Women in PoliticsEnvironmental Campaigns Using Social MediaTrusted Messengers, the Media, and the PandemicCampaigning for Political Office on Social MediaAdvertising the Lottery Online and In PrintLocal Government and Social Media7. Freedom of the Press and News/Media LiteracyPress Freedom in the United States and the WorldThe News from All SidesInvestigative Journalism and Social ChangeNews Photographs & Newspaper DesignUncovering Reporters' PerspectivesRecommendation Algorithms on Social Media PlatformsDetecting Fake NewsConducting Critical Visual AnalysisMemes and TikToks as Political Cartoons

Gendered Language in Media Coverage of Women in Politics

How many times have you heard the statement “You Guys” spoken almost automatically as part of everyday language, as though everyone present is a member of one gender? To object to the statement seems hopeless. Few speakers take the time to use gender-inclusive or gender-neutral terms such as “folks,” “everybody,” “friends,” “ya’ll,” or “team.”

Yet, words, and the meanings we assign to them, matter hugely in how people think and act not only in everyday conversations, but in how the media covers women and men in politics. Consider how the media writes and talks differently about political campaigns and job performances of women and men in government positions such as mayor, representative, senator, or judge. A commitment to equality under the law and justice for all is harder to sustain when the words used are specific to a male gender.

Women of the 116th Congress
Women of the 116th Congress | Public Domain

Does language use by the media impact people's attitudes and behaviors? Does it matter if news reports or reporters say "policemen" or "law enforcement officers" or "firemen" or firefighters" or if they describe women and men in politics differently?

A recent cross-national study established that genderless language or gender-inclusive langauge combats negative stereotypes toward women while promoting broader career opportunities for females in traditionally male-dominated fields, including politics (Perez & Tavits, 2019).

In this activity, you will examine the use of gendered language in media coverage of women in politics while envisioning how people's views might develop if more genderless language were used instead in politics and in everyday interactions in schools and society.

Activity 1: Examine the use of Gendered Language in the Media 

Bonus Media Literacy Activity: Examine the use of Gendered Language on Television Shows and YouTube Channel Streams

Additional Resources

Connecting to the Standards

  • Massachusetts Civics & Government Standards
    • Identify additional protections provided by the Massachusetts Constitution that are not provided by the U.S. Constitution. (Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for History and Social Studies) [8.T6.6]
  • ISTE Standards
    • Knowledge Constructor
      • 3a: Students plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits.
      • 3b: Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources.
      • 3d: Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.
    • Creative Communicator
      • 6a: Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
  • DLCS Standards
    • Interpersonal and Societal Impact (CAS.c)
    • Collaboration and Communication (DTC.b)
    • Research (DTC.c)
  • English Language Arts > History/Social Studies Common Core Standards
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.5
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.6
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.8
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.4
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.6
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.6
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.7