Edmonton Sun Headline: “Redford Mum on School Fees Promise”

Redford is Notley to Edmonton Sun

To the Edmonton Sun Editor and Postmedia headline writers,

Let us ask you this: when you picture former Alberta Premier Jim Prentice as you’re writing your headline, are you translating that image into the name “Stelmach”?

Didn’t think so.

And yet, female premiers and politicians are, according to your recent headline, interchangeable. 

Is it Clark or Wynn? Redford or Notley? Ambrose or Campbell? In our minds, it’s harder to distinguish them.

Female politicians are still rare enough for us to see them as women first. So we have a harder time distinguishing them as individuals. With male politicians, the fact that they’re male is a given, a norm. So we focus instead on their policies, politics and track records to help us distinguish them. This disadvantages women in politics, who have to fight harder for their distinct voices to be heard, against other female and male politicians.

In addition, the reputation of one female politician is subtly applied to another. We think, “Oh, Notley is a woman, like Redford? They must behave the same way.” Good or bad, it’s not fair. 

The Edmonton Sun headline from March 17, 2016, “Redford Mum on School Fees Promise,” whether or not it was a mistake, is an unfortunate symptom of our imbalanced politics in Canada. Our assumptions about gender and politics are biased.This won’t change until we see more women in politics and listen, really listen, to what they have to say. 

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