Louise Bunyan (3rd from left) pictured at the conference with Joan Burton TD, Cllr Mary McCamley (Mayor of Fingal) and Senator Ivana Bacik (right).

Fermoy lady Louise Bunyan, Director of SmartFox Digital Marketing, was recently invited to discuss how female politicians are portrayed in the media and across social media at a conference tiltled ‘A Century of Challenge and Change’ in the Castleknock Hotel, Dublin.

The event was organised by Fingal Libraries and Europe Direct to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of women getting the vote.

Also in attendance was Joan Burton TD, Senator Ivana Bacik, Theresa Reidy (UCC), Diarmaid Ferriter (UCD), Ciarian de Buis (Women for Election) and moderator Orla O’Connor (National Women’s Council).

Louise’s talk ‘How many followers would Countess Markievicz have’, demonstrated the differences in Google search prompts, Google Image search results, various newspaper headlines and social media and email abuse specific to female politicians.

One area that drew a lot of interest was that the word ‘hot’ appeared frequently for searches on female politicians and not at all for male politicians.

Louise Bunyan speaking at the conference.

Others areas discussed were headlines from various newspapers which showed how female politicians’ looks and personal lives were the focus of interest, in contrast to headlines about male politicians.

Next was social media abuse and serious threats over email with examples such as the abuse that Lorraine Higgins received and how Facebook’s bullying policy permits ‘open and critical’ discussion of people who are in the public eye.

The audience was then shown a mocked up version of a Twitter and Facebook account of Countess Markievicz using some of her most famous quotes as content, and a mocked up tabloid newspaper headline that could have appeared today in response to her quote of “I do wish your lot had the decency to shoot me”, when her death sentence was overturned on account of her gender.

Louise also spoke about change, and encouraged the audience, most of whom were 5th and 6th year students from local schools, to become more aware of how female politicians are portaryed in the media and social media and what they can do to change things.