Women reporters as experts on security affairs in Jordan? Rethinking gender and issue competency stereotypes

Calvert W. Jones*, Jocelyn Sage Mitchell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research on gender biases in politics and society finds security affairs to be a ‘stereotypically masculine’ issue area. Traditionally, men are seen as more credible sources of knowledge and authority in arenas such as crime and the military, while women are assumed to be more credible in ‘stereotypically feminine’ ones like childcare and health. But women’s roles in politics, media, and other influential sectors are rapidly changing in the Mediterranean and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. To test the conventional wisdom on gender and issue competency stereotypes in the media sector, we conducted an original public opinion survey of a nationally representative sample in Jordan (n = 885) assessing beliefs about the suitability of men versus women to report and offer commentary on national security affairs–specifically, an internal security threat described as a high-profile bank robbery. Strong patriarchal norms in Jordan suggest considerable bias should exist against women as sources of authority in stereotypically masculine domains and issue areas. Our survey results, however, do not support the conventional wisdom in public assessments of credibility, instead pointing to egalitarianism and even a modest credibility advantage for women on attributions of expertise. Given that theories of modernization, political knowledge, and social identity do not explain these counterintuitive findings, we make a theoretical contribution by proposing three novel explanations for why women in patriarchal contexts may at times avoid classic sexist backlash, and perhaps achieve greater credibility, as authorities on stereotypically masculine issue areas such as national security.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMeditteranean Politics
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Gender
  • Mediterranean
  • MENA
  • national security
  • surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations

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