Do women politicize differently than men? – A data analysis shows who speaks more in the Zurich parliament and who sets which topics

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: Switzerland

Publishing organisation: Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 2022-06-20

Language: German

Authors: Simon Huwiler, Joana Kelén, Linda Koponen


After training as a software developer, Simon studied journalism and organizational communication at the ZHAW in Winterthur. He was a Google Fellow at Spiegel, and worked as a data journalist, visual storyteller and reporter. Since 2021 data journalist at NZZ.

Joana studied communication design in Germany specializing in infographics and took her masters degree in Zurich in Design. She is working as a visual journalist at NZZ since 2016.

Linda studied journalism and sociology at the University of Zurich. She then spent two years as an editor at the “Zürichsee-Zeitung”. Since January 2020 editor in the Zurich and region department.

Project description:

An analysis of data from the Zurich Cantonal Council shows that men and women in the council speak and set different agenda items. Since the last elections, the number of women in the council has reached an all-time high, however, men still dominate the debate. According to 1100 session protocols and 10,600 proposals analyzed by the NZZ, men speak more than women. Furthermore men tend to speak more often on finance, taxes, and transportation, while women dominate debates on education, healthcare issues and handling LGBT-phobic attacks.

Impact reached:

The article was received positively by the readership.

Techniques/technologies used:

For our data analysis, we used the verbatim records of the Cantonal Council, all of which are provided as PDFs. These were read out automatically. For this purpose, a program was written that can assign which cantonal councilor spoke and when based on text formatting. The proposals were downloaded via the open interface of the cantonal council.

The article is accompanied by animated illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, which provide a lighter introduction to each topic. In addition, the text is accompanied by matching data visualizations that present our key findings in a more tangible way.

Another element that emerged from this data analysis is a separate article that makes data on the share of speech by women and men in the Zurich Cantonal Council instrumentally audible.

Context about the project:

What can other journalists learn from this project?

Data can be thought of in multiple layers, as here, for example, as a piece set to music. This can also be used as a method in the analysis.

Project links: