Earlier versions of this paper were delivered at the Law & Society Association Annual Meeting, Baltimore (2006), Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities Annual Meeting, Berkeley (2008), Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Meeting, Manchester (2008), and at Birkbeck College, University of London, and Keele University. The article was completed for publication thanks to a number of sources: a Gender, Sexuality and Law Visiting Fellowship, Keele University, April 2007; a Visiting Scholarship, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford, Summer 2007; a Visiting Scholarship, Feminism and Legal Theory Project, Emory University, April 2008; research funding from the University of Ulster School of Law; and comments from Professor Margaret Thornton, Professor Hilary Sommerlad, Professor Constance Backhouse, and Dr. Erika Rackley. All errors remain the author's.
Women Judges: Gendering Judging, Justifying Diversity
Version of Record online: 11 NOV 2008
© 2008 The Author. Journal Compilation © 2008 Cardiff University Law School
Journal of Law and Society
Volume 35, Issue 4, pages 490–519, December 2008
How to Cite
Feenan, D. (2008), Women Judges: Gendering Judging, Justifying Diversity. Journal of Law and Society, 35: 490–519. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6478.2008.00448.x
- Issue online: 11 NOV 2008
- Version of Record online: 11 NOV 2008
The under-representation of women in judicial office has led to calls for greater female representation based on an argument that women offer a different voice from that of men. This argument has largely foundered, and a more recent rationale rests on the need for diversity in the judiciary. However, the disadvantage experienced by women applicants to judicial office is rooted in deeply entrenched structural discrimination and exclusion, imbricated in the constitution of the judge, judging, and judicial authority as male, masculine, white, heterosexual, able-bodied, and class-privileged. Arguments for wider representation in judicial office need to address more effectively how the judge, judging, and judicial authority are constituted. A survey of women holders of judicial office in Northern Ireland confirms this exclusion. While few respondents in the survey support the concept of a different voice, many identify distinctive approaches which can potentially enrich notions of judging and judicial authority.