Politics and International Relations
The presence of women in legislatures has not kept pace with their advancement in education or the labour markets in East Asia’s three most developed democracies—Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. And the three countries have seen a two-threefold increase in their proportions of female legislators. Against this background, the primary purpose of this paper is to examine how female legislators have been portrayed over time in the mainstream media. For this goal, 2,500 newspaper articles describing women-issue bills, e.g. maternity leave, equal employment, and sexual harassment, were randomly selected from five major newspapers published between 2000 and 2016. In the main analysis, first, the paper investigates whether female legislators tend to receive less newspaper coverage than their male peers on the same issue. Relatedly, the tone of each article, e.g. negative, neutral, and positive, is compared between male and female legislators over time. Second, the degree of stereotypical representation of female legislators is examined by looking at to what extent particular newspaper articles focus on women’s appearance, e.g. clothes or makeups, or women’s performance, e.g. legislative strategies or success rate of bills. Third, potential factors affecting the quantity and quality of female legislators’ description, e.g. newspaper’s known ideological spectrum or age and gender of journalists, are tested using logistic and multi-nominal regressions. The paper fills a much-needed empirical gap in East Asia and contributes to the gender politics literature by clarifying an important context of substantive representation of women—the role played by media.