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Twitter may have made be rethink career in politics, admits Nicola Sturgeon

The First Minister said social media gives sexists and misogynists much more access to female politicians.

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The First Minister said social media gives sexists more access to female politicians (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

The First Minister said social media gives sexists more access to female politicians (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

The First Minister said social media gives sexists more access to female politicians (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

Nicola Sturgeon has said she may not have started a career in politics if social media existed at the time.

In an interview with Times Radio, the Scottish First Minister cited the access sexists and misogynists have to young female politicians through social media.

She said she was not targeted with overt acts of sexism in her early political life, but looking back she now sees the levels of misogyny which existed.

I'm not sure, hand on heart, that if Twitter had existed when I was growing up, would I be sitting here right now? I don't know, genuinelyNicola Sturgeon

She urged women in politics, particularly younger women, to “be yourself”.

She said: “The people out there who are deeply sexist and deeply misogynist have got more direct ways (with social media) of getting to you and that environment is in some ways more hostile.

“I’m not sure, hand on heart, that if Twitter had existed when I was growing up, would I be sitting here right now? I don’t know, genuinely.

“It’s really, really hard if you’re a younger woman in particular of finding ways of coping with that.”

The First Minister also recalled what politics was like when she was first elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

She said: “When I look back, I can’t point to a single episode or time in my life where I would say I was prevented from doing ‘x’ because I was a woman.

“And at the time I guess I wasn’t as conscious of it, but looking back, of course I was surrounded by sexism and misogyny all of the time.

“I probably only understood that looking back on it.”

The SNP leader pointed to repeated comments about her appearance and, in the early part of her career, an accusation that she never smiled as examples.

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The First Minister was first elected in 1999 (Ben Curtis/PA)

The First Minister was first elected in 1999 (Ben Curtis/PA)

The First Minister was first elected in 1999 (Ben Curtis/PA)

When embarking on her career, Ms Sturgeon said she felt that in order to “get on” she had to “fit in”, which led to her changing the way she presented herself publicly, becoming more aggressive in her demeanour with oppositions politicians.

She said: “I had this sense of the way to get on in politics was to fit in with the people around me.

“So I, subconsciously at the time but definitely the case, dressed more conservatively to look like the suited men around me, be a bit more adversarial than you were perhaps comfortable with being, because that’s how it was done by the men around you.

“It’s only relatively recently that I realised that the most important thing for any woman in any walk of life is to be yourself and not feel that you have to emulate the people around you.”

PA