Gender, Race, and the Media Representation of Women in the Canadian 41st Parliament: A Critical Discourse Analysis
Media representations of diverse groups in Canadian society have been shown by researchers to influence their individual and collective sense of well-being and by inference their welfare (Fleras, 2012; Henry & Tator, 2002; Gist, 1990). Nevertheless, mainstream media continue to be racially and/or sexually biased in their representation of minority groups, especially racialized minority and Aboriginal women. Although efforts have been made by the government and various interest groups to promote the tenets of equality, impartiality and objectivity as advocated in the Multiculturalism Act of 1988, Canadian broadcasting Act and the Employment Equity Act, media bias persists. Existing research exploring media representation of diverse groups in the political sphere has not been very thorough. The myopic focus on either the gender or race of candidates and their campaign activities en-route to political offices, offers limited analysis of the intersected identities of office holders in terms of their race/ethnicity and gender. Given the centrality of Parliament in formulating and upholding the tenets of social democracy in Canadian society, this study aims to address this gap by interrogating media representations of women with multiple targeted identities in the Canadian 41st Parliament – specifically the House of Commons. Through Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), this study examines mainstream and ethnic media representations of racialized minority and Aboriginal women MPs relative to their white counterparts in order to evaluate bias in these portrayals. In addition, the portrayal of racialized minority and Aboriginal women MPs in mainstream and ethnic newspapers are compared to highlight their convergences and divergences. The study’s findings reveal that while gender biased representations cut across both mainstream and ethnic media, ethnic media offer more positive portrayals of racialized MPs and their communities relative to mainstream media. The study also reveals that gender and race are not independent axes of oppression but operate simultaneously to compound oppressive misrepresentation of racialized minority women.
Gender, Race, Media Representation, Visible Minorities, Members of 41st Parliament
Master of Arts (M.A.)