Gender and the development of a political persona : the case of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Higgins, Michael and McKay, Fiona Merriel (2015) Gender and the development of a political persona : the case of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. British Politics. ISSN 1746-918X

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    Abstract

    Much recent research has focused on the prospects for women political leaders in media (Campus, 2013), and on the continuing poor representation of women politicians in news and commentary (O’Neill and Savigny, 2014). This article examines the media discourses which surround Scottish Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, focusing on her image prior to the 2004 Scottish National Party (SNP) leadership contest, and the subsequent development of her political persona. We argue that prior to her election as leader, a variety of definitional strategies positioned Sturgeon as aggressive, and, in keeping with the obligations of a more ‘intimate’ politics, we could see a softening and domestication of Sturgeon’s image. The article shows how these shifts took place in a manner that continued to call upon established gender norms. This shows a process of development and negotiation around ‘mediatisation’, where the various developments in Sturgeon’s gendered political persona are deployed to engage with media logic and meet changing political conditions. While the press play a definitional role in this gendering process, there is a complex exchange of strategy and participation in the gendering of politics.