My research interest centers on political representation from a comparative politics perspective, with a specific focus on two major topics: legislative studies and gender.
I am interested in the way institutions – such as the electoral system, the political party, or the legislative arena – shape elected representatives’ attitudes and behavior. My Ph.D thesis explored how elected representatives construct their perceptions of representation and the way such perceptions affect party unity. In a related paper (Itzkovitch-Malka and Hazan PS 2017) I analyzed the effect of electoral systems, candidate selection methods and the interplay between on party unity, showing that one must take into account the effect of inter- as well as intra-party competition, and the interaction between the two, in order to explain individual legislative goals and behavior. I also explore the effects of the electoral system on MPs’ constituency orientation, in system which lack electoral districts.
Another project I am engaged in deals with the collective memory of political parties. In this project we suggest a new approach for understanding the dynamic of domination loss in the parliamentary arena, which focuses on the intersection between political power and parties’ image in the political discourse (Itzkovitch-Malka et al. PP 2019).
While investigating a broad range of issues related to gender and politics – such as women’s descriptive representation, the adoption of gender quotas for women and the gender gap in voting – I specialize on women’s substantive representation. My research shows that women legislators tend to focus more on gender-related policy issues compared to male legislators, proving that under certain conditions, women’s descriptive representation indeed leads to their substantive representation. I explore the links between gender and national security in the legislative arena in Israel, and show how male and female legislators prioritize security differently, alongside other thematic policy areas (Itzkovitch-Malka and Friedberg EJWS 2018). In order to deepen our understanding of the substantive representation of women in Israel – an understudied research agenda in Israeli academy – I conduct a 3-year research project (2017-2020) focused on conceptually and empirically delineating the substantive representation of women in Israel and assessing its impact on the nature of Israeli democracy. This project is funded by the Israel Science Foundation (individual research grant #554/17).
In line with my interest in the relationship between gender and political behavior, I have taken part in a research team at the Van Leer Institute comprised of leading Israeli scholars and graduate students who study gender gaps in voting patterns. As part of this group I co-authored two papers. One dealing with the effect of feminist consciousness on vote choice, and the other dealing with the barriers for the introduction and implementation of electoral gender quotas.