As women have become more important forces in the political system, political observers have considered the significance of gender as a filter for media coverage of politics. In the last two chapters, we have examined how the media cover male and female candidates when they run for political office. As with political advertising (VideoStyle) and Internet presentations (WebStyle), we compare and contrast in this chapter the reactions of male and female voters to news media coverage of political figures (NewsStyle).

Gender and Political Knowledge Levels Some political observers suggest that differences in how men and women voters process news and information can be seen in their different levels of political knowledge. The often-discussed “gender gap” in voting also has been extended to encompass a “knowledge gap” between male and female citizens. For decades, voting and policy issue research has documented that women tend to be less informed about and less interested in political issues than men (Bennett and Bennett 1989; Delli Carpini and Keeter 1991, 1996, 2000; Kenski and Jamieson 2001; Verba, Burns, and Schlozman 1997). In a study of perceptions about political knowledge in the 2000 election, Banwart and Bystrom (2001) also found that male citizens are more confident about their level of information and knowledge than are female citizens.