This research project is based on my Masters dissertation which attempted to look at how three Welsh national newspapers portrayed women AMs during the May 2007 general election.
There were an equal number of men and women elected to the second Welsh Assembly in 2003, although Wales only had four women MPs in 1997. In a by-election on June 29, 2006, Trish Law took the seat of Blaenau Gwent in the Assembly which was held by her late husband AM Peter Law before his death. Due to the by-election, women outnumbered men in the second Assembly, holding 31 seats out of 60.
The May 2007 Assembly election produced 28 female AMs and 23 of them were re-elected. It is the second time that women have held almost half of the seats in the Welsh government and once again they achieved an almost equal level of representation. However, my MA research suggested that there were significant differences in the national press coverage between male and female AMs. Analysis of the examined newspapers also showed that Assembly women were represented less seriously than their male colleagues by giving them comparatively more sexist and negative attention.
My PhD research will explore in depth a wider range of Welsh national and local newspapers than those covered in the MA project, expanding to include the Western Mail, South Wales Echo, Daily Post, Wales on Sunday, South Wales Argus, South Wales Evening Post, Evening Leader, Western Telegraph, Cambrian News, North Wales Pioneer and Penarth Times. It will examine the ways in which female AMs are represented in these newspapers, especially the local press, during the 2007 election period as well as more in routine coverage etc.
With regard to methodology, both quantitative and qualitative research methods will be applied in the study. The three main methods will be content and discourse analysis of visual and written newspaper texts, and interviewing.
Supervisor: Professor Karin Wahl-Jorgensen
BA Dissertation: ‘Child Image in David Copperfield’
MA Dissertation: ‘Women in the Assembly: Representations of Female Assembly Members in the Welsh National Press’