Judiciary

Women's Representation in the Judiciary

Women attend law school at equal rates as men but are underrepresented as judges

Out of the 113 justices that have served on the Supreme Court, there have only been four women - three of whom are currently on the bench. Sixty of the 165 active judges currently sitting on the thirteen federal courts of appeal are female (36%), and on several of the individual courts, women constitute less than one-quarter of the judges.

These numbers are even worse for women of color

Women of color are less represented than any other demographic group, as their numbers (at the state level) represent a mere 40% of their relative numbers in the general population. Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the first and only woman of color to sit on the Supreme Court. 

Is representation improving?

When in office, President Obama facilitated significant progress for women judges and more than doubled the number of women of color to federal judicial positions. 42 percent of his confirmed nominees to federal courts were women. 

It remains to be seen if this progress will continue through future presidencies, but the current signs do not bode well. As of June 2018, President Trump has nominated 120 judges, of which only 29 (24%) are women. 

 

Learn more about women in the judiciary

Sources: National Women's Law Center, The Gavel Gap, Alliance for Justice, Federal Judicial Center
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