The story of the woman judge as one of exclusion and isolation plagued with allegations of bias is well documented. Interestingly, despite significant differences in time and place, a common theme unites these tales: the woman judge is a dangerous outsider, a threat to the aesthetic norm. The judicial climate, at least in most of the common law world, is somewhat chilly: reactions to her presence on the bench vary from the largely indifferent to the downright hostile. Why is this? After all, most people, perhaps acknowledging the political and democratic gains underlying calls for a more representative judiciary, would wish to encourage – or at least not discourage – judicial diversity.
Taking the stories of the woman judge as its starting point, this paper contends that underlying these tales is an image of the judge that is as much intuitive as it is reasoned; that our understanding of the judge and judging is as much derived from the imagination as from what is conventionally considered as rational thought. Thus, the paper deploys the narrative strategies of fairy tales in an attempt to disrupt the imaginative hold of familiar yet particular images that infuse and distort current discourses on adjudication. It suggests that despite the Department for Constitutional Affairs’ ongoing quest to increase diversity within the judiciary, current initiatives do not confront fully these instinctive images. As a result, their narrative of inclusiveness and difference fails. In response, the paper appeals to the imagination as a route toward engendering new conceptions on the judge and judging, the possibility of truly diverse judiciaries and, perhaps, a fairy tale ending to the woman judge’s story.