Women in the Judiciary: working towards a legal system reflective of society


March 2017 - In recent decades, the number of women in the judiciary has significantly increased worldwide. In many countries around half of law students are women, and 2014 data shows that women in OECD countries make up more than 54% of professional judges. But women are still vastly underrepresented in top-ranking judicial positions including on High Court benches and other senior roles in the legal profession.

Women only hold 33.6% of judgeships in Supreme Courts. This trend is mirrored in the proportion of presidential positions women occupy. On average, women hold 45.9% of presidencies in courts of lower courts, 28% in courts of appeal, and 18.6% in high courts. Since women are often successful at gaining entry into the legal profession but progress slowly into senior posts, re-visiting the corporate culture and working conditions, and introducing mentorship schemes are necessary considerations. Regardless of government policies, leadership and independent monitoring of outcomes are essential components to ensure a more diverse judiciary.


Female share of professional judges by level of court

Note: Data not available for Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States‌
SourceEuropean judicial systems Efficiency and quality of justice, CEPEJ STUDIES No. 23 (Edition 2016, 2014 data)




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