First Advisor

Cynthia-Lou Coleman

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Communication Studies and University Honors






Women presidential candidates -- United States -- Public opinion -- History, Social media -- Political aspects -- United States, Stereotypes (Social psychology) in mass media -- Political aspects -- United States, Sexism in political culture, Sex discrimination against women




For 130 years, American media coverage on women in presidential races remains unchanged despite the drastic difference in women's rights. While male candidates receive commentary on their policy, women often fall into discussions about their hair, their hemline, or their husband. Three core narratives about women then stem from their media characterization: unnatural, incompetent, and unviable. Unnatural, in that women, by nature, are not meant to be in political office. Incompetent, implying women are not smart enough for political office. Unviable, arguing that America is not ready to elect a female or females are "unelectable". The key to escaping this framing trifecta and creating the path to equal and fair elections is social media. This thesis offers a historical comparison of media representation of women over time and explores the rapidly changing digital political landscape. Ultimately, it argues that the key to political success and equality for women presidential candidates lies in using Twitter and other social media platforms to their advantage. By reclaiming their identities with their own words on social media, women escape media narratives, connect with their voting base, and find success.


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