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Entering the Australian Judiciary: Gender and Court Hierarchy


  • This research initially was funded by a University-Industry Research Collaborative Grant in 2001 with Flinders University and the Association of Australian Magistrates (AAM) as the partners and also received financial support from the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration. Until 2005, it was funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project Grant (LP210306), 2002–2005, with AAM and all Chief Magistrates and their courts as industry partners and with support from Flinders University as the host institution. From 2006, the research has been funded by an ARC Discovery Grant (DP0665198), 2006–2008, also from 2010 by an ARC Discovery Grant (DP1096888). We are grateful to Russell Brewer, Carolyn Corkindale, Colleen deLaine, Elizabeth Edwards, Ruth Harris, Julie Henderson, John Horrocks, Leigh Kennedy, Lisa Kennedy, Mary McKenna, Rose Polkinghorne, Wendy Reimens, Mavis Sansom, Chia-Lung Tai, Carla Welsh, Rae Wood, and David Wootton for research and administrative assistance. Portions of this article were presented at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Law and Society Association/Canadian Law and Society Association and at the Gender and Judging Workshop at the International Institute for Sociology of Law Oñati Spain, June 2009. We are grateful to the participants in the programs for their helpful comments and to the anonymous reviewers for their careful reading of the manuscript and helpful suggestions.

Kathy Mack, School of Law, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia. Telephone: 61-8-8201-5537; e-mail:


There is considerable attention to increasing judicial diversity along a range of dimensions, in particular, gender. Women remain underrepresented in many courts, especially at the higher levels of the judiciary. A comprehensive socio-legal study of the Australian judiciary compares experiences and attitudes of women who have become judicial officers at different levels of the court hierarchy. Understanding their personal and professional backgrounds and the features that attracted them to the judiciary has important implications for addressing gender disparity. Effective recruitment and selection must focus on the expectations and experiences of women in relation to particular judicial contexts.