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Women, Power and the Media conference at Aston

3 September 2007 – for immediate release

A groundbreaking international conference at Aston University in Birmingham, UK this month will critically examine contemporary issues surrounding women, power and the media.

With a special emphasis on politics, speakers from across the world will discuss how prominent women in, or attempting to gain, power (for example S�gol�ne Royal in France and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female President in Africa) are represented in today’s media.

Women are increasingly gaining access to positions of political power. A female Head of State has recently been appointed in Chile, Germany, Jamaica, Liberia and South Korea. In France, the latest presidential campaign was fought with the prospect of the country having its first female president (a possible future scenario in the USA as well if Hilary Clinton runs for President).

So how do the print, broadcast and online media currently represent women in political power? How might its representations affect the way they are perceived by the public?

Dr Pierre Larriv�e from Aston University, who is Co-organiser of the 15th September conference says: ‘The increasing presence of women as political leaders challenges traditional social conventions that, until recently, have been based on a gender-based division of roles and have constructed political leadership as a male responsibility. Femininity and power have been commonly seen as incompatible. This raises the question of whether the growing prominence of women in political leadership roles in any national context is matched by the social reception of female leaders.

‘This reception can be examined by looking at the language used to name, portray and qualify women in the public forum. This allows us to explore asymmetries that exist with respect to femininity and power and to demonstrate how these are linguistically constructed in the public domains. The media is a particularly fruitful domain of study for such investigations, as it shapes and is shaped by received social conventions.

‘Several of our September conference papers will focus on the treatment of S�gol�ne Royal in the French and British press, examining whether (and to what extent) gender still constitutes a limitation to holding the highest political offices.

‘Another paper will examine perception of women MSPs in the Scottish media and another will look at media misrepresentation of African women in politics, particularly the case of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female president.’

For further information about the conference visit http://www.aston.ac.uk/lss/whatsnew/womenpowerandthemedia/

ENDS

For further press information please contact Sally Hoban on +44 (0)121 204 4552.

Prof Pamela Moores, Head of the School of Languages and Social Sciences at Aston and Chair of the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML) is available for telephone, email and broadcast interviews.

Notes for editors:

1. The Conference has been organised by Dr Pierre Larrivee and Sylvia Jaworska, a PhD student at Queen Mary, University of London.

2. The School of Languages & Social Sciences at Aston University aims to study the relation between modern language and contemporary society. The Conference is supported the Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France and the Institute for the Study of Language & Society.

3. Copies of paper abstracts are available on request, or visit the conference website for further information. Please contact the Press Office or Dr Larrivee if you are interested in attending on the day.

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