About ICS

The Institute of Communication Studies is a leading research organization in the field of journalism and media studies, public relations and corporate communications. Our mission is to contribute towards strengthening of Macedonian democracy by working with media, civil society and public institutions, educating a critical public that will ask for greater transparency and accountability through engagement in the policy creation process.


Gender stereotypes and discrimination in media coverage of women politicians in elections

The gender narrative was significantly underrepresented in the news reports on the presidential and parliamentary elections due to the fact that it was seldom present in the rhetoric of the campaign speakers. The media hardly analysed any topics about the involvement of women in the elections, especially women from ethnic communities, which indicates the low level of awareness of the importance of gender equality issues.

This is shown by the gender-based media content analysis “Women Politicians and Media Bias”, which the Institute of Communication Studies (ICS) prepared for the period March – May 2024, i.e. starting from the official deadline for submission of presidential candidacies to the State Election Commission of March 19, until the second round of the presidential elections on May 8, which coincided with the parliamentary elections.

The research shows that the mere presence of women politicians in the media is reason enough for their stereotyping and discrimination related to traditional gender roles and the physical appearance of women, especially through the use of sensationalist language. This contributes to their further objectification and it defocuses from key political issues, reinforces attitudes about the traditional responsibilities and tasks of men and women, and perpetuates prejudice about the role of women in the public sphere. Feminatives are rarely used in news headlines and reports, i.e., professions and titles in the feminine gender are not used, even when referring to women. There is sexism, ageism and hatred towards women politicians in the comments of news reports on social media, as well as digital violence with abuse of visual content and support of offensive speech by other commentators and bots. Most hate speech and insulting comments are still publicly available.

Hence, the media should create and publish news on gender issues, especially in periods when they are eclipsed by other political topics. It is of great importance that journalists enable greater representation of women in the media space, until their role in the public sphere is normalized. The media should be critical of discriminatory rhetoric, questioning the reliability of such statements, they should avoid gender stereotyping of female politicians in high positions, and use gender-sensitive language in news reports. At the same time, the media should create content that will oppose gender stereotypes and hate speech and increase media literacy, so that the public can recognize the methods for creating and spreading gendered disinformation. In this direction, they should establish internal policies and assign employees responsible for regulating comments with harmful content.

The gender-based media content analysis “Women Politicians and Media Bias” includes 14,000 news reports published on online media and traditional media websites and 20,761 comments on news reports on media profiles on social platforms Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. It was created within the scope of the “Use Facts” project, which is supported by the British Embassy in Skopje.

Download the publication “Women Politicians and Media Bias” HERE.