Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences
Representing Women Project
The Representing Women involves a team from three research centres at DCU.
Centre for International Studies (CIS)
One of the main debates that underpins the demand for candidate quotas to address the unequal representation of women in national parliaments is whether or not women, once elected, bring a different perspective to politics. Do women TDs as a group raise different issues to male TDs as a group; are they more likely to promote policies that can be construed as relating to women’s interest? These questions also address how issues of ‘gender’ are constructed and debated in parliament. The research conducted by CIS will initially examine the content of priority Parliamentary questions, using frames derived from the literature to define ‘issues of interest to women’, and compare the differences in the topics raised and the way they are dealt with by male TDs and female TDs. It will then use ‘pairing’ to compare in more detail the policy profile of male and female TDs.
Centre for Translation and Textual Studies (CTTS)
In the parliamentary debating chamber, access to the floor—and thereby power—is underscored by strategies of discourse. The research of the CTTS branch of the project will undertake a linguistic analysis of contributions made by women. TDs during political debates in the Dáil, and will examine performative strategies undertaken by these TDs in a discourse setting traditionally dominated by men. The analysis of linguistic features such as lexical choice and metaphor aims to shed an instructive light on the power relations between men and women TDs in the chamber.
Centre for Society, Information and Media (SIM)
Media currently play a major role in determining the ways in which citizens understand the ‘political’. It follows that popular beliefs about women politicians will be strongly influenced by the way in which they are portrayed in the media. SIM’s contribution to the project will include (a) an examination of the media coverage of Irish female politicians at national level and (b) audience research on how these media messages influence citizens’ attitudes and opinions towards women holding political office. The methodological approach chosen for this study combines quantitative and qualitative reading of text and images with the empirical audience research.
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