Representing Women and Facing Electoral Disadvantage? A Mixed-method Analysis of Policy-career Trade-offs in South Korea and Taiwan

Project: Research project

Project Details


In the past several decades, the overall proportion of women in parliaments worldwide has increased substantially and global-level empirical evidence has demonstrated that greater proportions of women in the legislature lead to more promotion of women’s issues, e.g. increased maternity leave, women’s career advancement, domestic violence reduction, or abortion rights. Clear benefits offered to women voters notwithstanding, no systematic research has been conducted to examine the relationship between female legislators’ promotion of women’s issues and its career consequences. To fill this gap, the project investigates to what degree and through what mechanisms female legislators’ face electoral disadvantages when they support issues concerning women voters; moreover, it also examines how the policy-career trade-offs pertinent to women’s issues differs between legislators elected at districts and those elected through party lists.

The project focuses on two under-explored countries in the gender politics literature—South Korea and Taiwan—and examines the period between 2008 and 2020. During this period, both counties have seen a substantial increase in women’s presence in the legislature who on average were much more active than their male legislators in promoting women’s issues. In addition, the two countries have adopted a mixed electoral rule (which is composed of district tier and party list tier) during the selected period which allows a rare opportunity to test the influence of electoral systems on legislative behavior as well as related electoral consequences.

The proposed project combines both quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the degree and mechanism of policy-career trade-offs. For the quantitative analysis, the project measures the level of legislators’ commitment on women’s issues by creating a dataset that considers both quantity and quality of women’s issue legislation supported by legislators during the period. After that, statistical techniques will be applied to test to what degree a female legislator’s increased level of legislative commitment on women’s issue leads to decrease in her re-election chance.

Informed by the results from the quantitative analysis, the qualitative analysis will open up the “black box” of policy-career trade-offs by examining the related mechanisms. For this goal, elite interviews will be conducted with various types of South Korean and Taiwanese legislators to identify how exactly the electoral disadvantages manifest in politics and how informal rules, norms, and practices play a role. The sample will be confined to those who were active in promoting women’s issues during their tenure but faced different electoral fortunes in the subsequent election.
Effective start/end date1/09/2131/08/24


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