Is feminine style executive style? Textual analysis of State of the State addresses 2001-2016
Mack, Ava Marie
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Political speeches are powerful communicative capital. Speeches signal policy positions, preferences and priorities to other legislators, executives and constituents. Current literature diverges on the prime factor that influences political speech. One body of literature claims institutions influence speech. The authority and constraints of political offices condition speeches’ purpose. Legislators use speeches to credit claim and executives to agenda set. A second body focuses on gender. These authors unanimously find that female legislators speak with a “feminine style”, emphasizing traditional women’s issues including healthcare, education and social spending. The institutional literature that examines executive speech ignores gender. The gender-based literature only examines legislators, ignoring executives. The overlap, female executive speech, has not been studied. There has never been a female US national executive, but female executives on the state level, governors, are a valuable resource. Using an original data set of 668 State of the State addresses given by US governors 2001-2016, I attempt to answer whether gender conditions executive speech. My textual analysis suggests that institutions are more important, and that regardless of gender, governors emphasize similar issues in their speeches. However, male governors address national issues more frequently than female governors who tend to focus on state-specific issues.