At the heart of political science is the endeavor to improve the human condition. When we study democracy, we seek to understand how to best spread political participation and improve representation. When we study development, we seek to understand how best to improve populations’ access to food, water, and housing. When we study war, we seek to understand how best to protect individuals’ lives and bodies. Human rights are intertwined with everything political science as a field seeks to understand, and improvements in the respect for these rights rely on shifting norms, discourse, and institutions, both domestically and internationally. My research agenda is focused on the intersections of these shifts.
In my dissertation, a book project and direct extension of this agenda, I tackle the puzzle that although widely ratified international law guarantees women equal access to and enjoyment of the economy, women’s enjoyment of their economic rights continues to show variation—even in developed, democratic countries. I argue that this variation is a result of differing degrees of support for specific women-friendly policies in these countries’ legislatures. Chapters 1 and 2 present the foundations for the project, overviewing the literature and presenting my arguments for focusing on women’s rights when considering their representation. In Chapter 3, I create and test a measure of the women-friendliness of state policies. And in Chapters 4 and 5, I turn to testing the mechanism by which policies presented in Chapter 3 are incorporated in domestic law, discussing my cases (Australia, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom) and presenting the results of my text analysis.
In the long term, I will also use the data I have collected to complete analyses related to other categories of women’s rights—political, social, cultural, etc. It can also be used in other ways, from tracing the development of the discourse over time to placing individual members of parliament (or even parties) on scales measuring their commitment to incorporating women’s rights into domestic law. Furthermore, the web scrapers I have written can be applied to future data collection efforts aimed at spreading the analyses to more countries.
Taken as a whole, my research addresses questions related to the causes and effects of the ratification of international human rights treaties and their incorporation into domestic law, using advanced statistical methods such as text analysis and Bayesian latent variables that are still relatively new to political science. It embodies my belief that a better understanding of how rights are conceptualized at the international and domestic level leads to a more complete representation of—and ability to effect change for—rights on the ground. Moreover, my involvement in measurement projects embodies my belief that similarly complete conceptualizations of rights are necessary at the scholarly level in order to make our analyses as representative of reality as possible. Such research speaks to not only the subfields of human rights and international law, but also to subfields such as comparative institutions, international and comparative political economy, and public policy.
Hill, Daniel W., Jr. and K. Anne Watson. 2019. “Democracy and Compliance with Human Rights Treaties: The Conditional Effectiveness of CEDAW.” International Studies Quarterly 63(1): 127-138.
“Women, the Workforce, and the Welfare State: Women’s Economic Rights in Domestic Legislation”
“Into the Words: Exploring Discourse around Women’s Rights in Parliaments.”
“Reasons to Ratify: Economic Concerns and IHRT Ratification.”
“Measuring Government Effort to Respect Economic Rights.” (with David L. Richards, K. Chad Clay, Stephen Bagwell, and Charles Carlie)
“Making Course Content Accessible: Interactive Outlines as a Framework for Student Engagement”
“Tick, Tick, Boom: Simulating Decisions on the Use of Interrogation Tactics.”
“Are We Changing the Way Students Think? Simulating Decisions in a Human Rights Context.” (with K. Chad Clay)