Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer


Vol. 35 (2015)

The Gendered Parenting of Political Leaders

  • Joakim Johansson
  • Linda Asplund Bergström
June 16, 2017


Do we have different expectations of male and female politicians regarding parenting when young children are involved? If so, what are the implications for political citizenship? The aim of this article was to examine the construction of parenting and gender in the portrayal in Swedish print media of high-ranking politicians Gustav Fridolin, leader of the Green Party, and Birgitta Ohlsson, a Liberal Party member of the Swedish Government. The study covers reporting from 2010 up to the end of 2012. Methodologically, a discourse analysis based on discourse theory was performed, implying a textual analysis of 39 articles through gender theoretical lenses. Although fathers were seen as primary caregivers in some of the articles, a recurrent phenomenon was the repetition in Swedish newspaper articles of the idea that mothers rather than fathers should be considered primary caregivers. Furthermore, since Ohlsson was criticized for not choosing parental leave and the critical remarks about Fridolin were instead about him choosing parental leave, the different expectations on women as mothers and men as fathers in politics imply that even in a Nordic country context young children are a greater obstacle for female rather than for male politicians. Thus, gender inequalities between women's and men's political citizenship continue to persist in Sweden.