Women candidates are unrewarded for “masculine” campaigning: Facebook campaigning during Israel's 2018 municipal elections

Tal Samuel-Azran, Moran Yarchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study examines the impact of gender on Facebook campaign strategies and the reception of these strategies during the 2018 Israeli municipal elections. Design/methodology/approach: The authors analyzed all the messages posted on 48 politicians' official Facebook pages during the week leading up to the elections. They analyzed messages posted by 152 candidates running for the position of head of a municipality, 68 of whom were women (48 had an active Facebook account), examining the amount of engagement they had created. The authors also analyzed the candidates' use of rhetoric and use of negative campaigning and the engagement it created. Findings: Analysis of the overall engagement of Facebook users in respect to men versus women politicians showed that men politicians' posts were significantly more engaging in terms of the number of likes and shares they generated, although the multilevel analysis found no significant differences between engagement in the posts of men and women politicians. The Aristotelian rhetoric analysis revealed no significant differences between women and men contenders; however, in line with the role incongruity theory, the engagement analysis found that male candidates' logic-based posts attracted significantly more shares. The negative campaigning analysis found that, contrary to the study’s hypothesis, female candidates posted twice as many messages, attacking their opponents as their men counterparts. However, in line with the hypothesis based on the role incongruity theory, these posts gained significantly less engagement than those of their men counterparts. Originality/value: The study highlights that female candidates do not conform to their perceived gender role as soft, emotional, and gentle in their social media campaigning. However, in line with role incongruity theory, they were not rewarded for this “unwomanly” behavior because they gained significantly less engagement with their logic-based posts and their attacks against other candidates than their men counterparts. Despite the fact that prior studies have indicated the potential of social networks service (SNS) to empower women leaders, the findings of the study highlight the continued gender discrimination and the validity of role incongruity theory during social media campaigning, particularly at the municipal elections level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1199-1216
Number of pages18
JournalOnline Information Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - 23 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Double-voice
  • Equalization
  • Facebook campaign
  • Gender bias
  • Municipal elections
  • Normalization
  • Role incongruity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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