Research Seminar: ‘Holding the (wo)man’

‘Holding the (wo)man’: a corpus analysis of media representation of AFLW players


Speaker: Melissa Kemble

Historically, the media have been criticised for biased, gendered portrayals of female athletes in sports news reporting. This study investigates how players in the Australian Football League Women’s (AFLW) are evaluated and positioned in the news media before and after the inaugural season. While Australian Football boasts one of the largest sporting communities in the country, the professional league was male-only until 2017 when the women’s league officially commenced. My research is based on a 9500 word corpus of AFLW news articles published in the print edition of the Herald Sun newspaper. The data are taken for the 12-month period commencing June 2016, excluding articles published during the nine-week season. A reference corpus is also used. Combining corpus linguistics with analysis of appraisal (i.e. evaluative language), I analyse the AFLW corpus to identify any potential evidence of patriarchal discourses (i.e. othering, objectification, trivialisation, stereotyping). I also compare media coverage before the season to coverage after the season to identify any potential shifts in the discourses. The keyword analysis reveals a potentially positive shift in the way that these female players are being described; however, the text analysis reveals a disproportionate focus on gender stereotypes and othering, which positions the professional Australian Football sporting domain as male. This research contributes to existing linguistic research on gender bias in Australian sport, and is the first such study to focus specifically on AFLW.

A Word document of the abstract can be found here: Holding_the_(wo)man_19092019_SCLR

This seminar is hosted by the Language, Identity and Culture node of the Sydney Centre for Language Research.






19 Sep 2019


12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Education Building, Manning Road, The University of Sydney


Language, Identity and Culture Node
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