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

Higgins, Michael; McKay, Fiona M.


Michael Higgins

Fiona M. McKay


Much recent research has focussed on the manner in which women political leaders are portrayed in media. This article examines the press discourses around Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, beginning before her participation in the 2004 Scottish National Party leadership contest, after which she was appointed deputy leader, and continuing through to her appointment as First Minister in 2014. Starting before her deputy leadership, a variety of definitional strategies positioned Sturgeon as aggressive and shrewish. Subsequently, in keeping with the obligations of a more 'intimate' politics, we find a softening and domestication of Sturgeon's media image, alongside discourses of political competence and professionalism. Yet, the article shows how these shifts took place in a manner that continued to call upon established gendered discourses, often with newspapers using tactics of distancing. We suggest this illustrates the competing pulls of media logic, where the mediatisation of Sturgeon's image produces a marketable political persona, but accompanied by those residual gendered discourses long associated with the political press.


HIGGINS, M. and MCKAY, F. 2016. Gender and the development of a political persona: the case of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. British politics [online], 11(3), pages 283-300. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 7, 2015
Online Publication Date Dec 19, 2016
Publication Date Sep 30, 2016
Deposit Date Mar 10, 2016
Publicly Available Date Oct 1, 2017
Journal British politics
Print ISSN 1746-918X
Electronic ISSN 1746-9198
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 3
Pages 283-300
Keywords Gender; Political persona; Scottish politics; Political communications; Scottish press; Mediatisation
Public URL


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