“Gender Matters in the Judiciary: Adjudicating Sexual Assault in Korea”


Dr. Lisa Hilbink

Committee Members

Dr. Teri Caraway

Dr. Michael Minta

Dr. Herbert Kritzer (University of Minnesota Law School)


My dissertation contributes new theoretical perspectives on gender and judging through an exploration of how different gender compositions of three-judge panels influence criminal sentencing decisions regarding rape in South Korea—a civil law country characterized by hierarchical judicial organization, absence of jury trials, and high gender inequality. While the effect of a judge’s gender on case outcomes has been long studied, the scholarship is focused predominantly on common law judiciaries and the findings are mixed. There is limited knowledge and understanding of how judges in civil law countries make decisions around rape cases as a collegial panel. Moreover, the lack of qualitative data on contemporary judicial decision-making behavior has hampered our ability to more comprehensively understand the factors driving their decisions besides laws and political ideology. Using mixed methods, including logistic regression, content analysis of over 1,000 judicial opinions from 2014 to 2020 in eight district courts, and semi-structured interviews with 42 legal elites, I analyze if and how judges across gender, gender norms and levels of position perceive rape, interpret the criminal law, determine and reason about sentencing, and influence each other on a collegial panel.

Acknowledgement of Support

This project has been supported by internal grants such as Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (DDF), Thesis Research Travel Grant (TRTG) and Leadership in Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Fellowship (LEID) from the University of Minnesota Graduate School, and external grants such as Huang Hsing Chun-tu Hsueh International Fellowship Fund, a research grant from the American Political Science Association’s Centennial Center, and APSA Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (DDRIG), a fund of National Science Foundation.

Photos from the Field Research

Collection of photos from the field research, Summer 2019 – Fall 2020

Photos from the Academic Conferences

WPSA Conference, Portland, OR, March 2022
SPSA Conference, San Antonio, TX, January 2022