Women Judges: Judging Gender, Justifying Diversity

Dermot Feenan

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    Abstract

    The under-representation of women in judicial office has led to callsfor greater female representation based on an argument that womenoffer a different voice from that of men. This argument has largelyfoundered, and a more recent rationale rests on the need for diversityin the judiciary. However, the disadvantage experienced by womenapplicants to judicial office is rooted in deeply entrenched structuraldiscrimination and exclusion, imbricated in the constitution of thejudge, judging, and judicial authority as male, masculine, white,heterosexual, able-bodied, and class-privileged. Arguments for widerrepresentation in judicial office need to address more effectively howthe judge, judging, and judicial authority are constituted. A survey ofwomen holders of judicial office in Northern Ireland confirms thisexclusion. While few respondents in the survey support the concept of adifferent voice, many identify distinctive approaches which canpotentially enrich notions of judging and judicial authority.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)490-519
    JournalJournal of Law and Society
    Volume35
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

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