One day after Ann Romney’s Republican National Convention speech, The Associated Press devoted an entire article to her “tasteful, conservative and appropriate wardrobe.”
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivered an issue-packed endorsement of Mitt Romney, and Wall Street Journal Live responded with a two-minute video segment, “How to avoid Condi Rice lipstick on teeth.”
Media references to the physical appearance of women in leadership are so ubiquitous that most of us barely notice them. The recent Republican convention produced a typical sampling.
Yet over time, the media’s portrayal of women has a profound deterrent effect, keeping capable potential officeholders from seeking elective position.
That’s a premise of the documentary “Miss Representation,” screened recently at IUPUI and sponsored by National Panhellenic Conference. The film featured extensive video clips of television pundits referring to physical attributes of candidates, most notably Democrat Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential run, GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The anecdotal evidence is echoed in a “political ambition study” by the Women and Politics Institute of American University. Women just don’t want to put themselves “out there.”
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