1. bookVolume 6 (2018): Issue 2 (December 2018)
Journal Details
First Published
08 Sep 2014
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
access type Open Access

Gender and affiliation differences in topic selection in U.S. congressional speeches

Published Online: 08 May 2020
Page range: 105 - 129
Received: 05 Nov 2019
Accepted: 02 Dec 2019
Journal Details
First Published
08 Sep 2014
Publication timeframe
2 times per year

The aim of this paper was to study gender differences in topic choice selection using the corpus of speeches given in the 113th United States Congress. We also looked at whether there are topic choice selection differences with respect to party affiliation and chamber, and finally, whether conversational topics chosen by male and female politicians correlate with any other category we measured in our corpus. The corpus was composed of 672 speeches by the female and 2,983 speeches by the male politicians. The speech transcripts were downloaded from the official repository Thomas and analyzed using the text analysis software Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) to identify the use of vocabulary related to seven conversational topics recorded by LIWC. The data was analyzed both quantitatively, using statistical analysis, and qualitatively, to determine if there are significant gender differences in speech topic selection. The analyses showed that there are overall gender and affiliation differences in topic selection by the male and female politicians in the 113th Congress, some confirming the trend of long-standing prevalence of home-related references in women’s speeches, and death and religion references in men’s speeches, others marking a social shift for some of the categories compared to previous studies on the topic, such as the increasing share of references to work, money achievement in women’s speeches, as well as women’s preference for security, and men’s preference for competitiveness, as signaled by their lexical choices. Further correlation test results recorded subtler differences which pointed to linguistic changes in stereotypization, such as women signaling less emotion and choosing more formal ways of expression.


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