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Women's Representation in the Judiciary

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

  • 33% of Supreme Court Justices
  • 33% of Federal Judges (excluding the Supreme Court)
  • 33% of State Judges

Out of the 114 justices that have served on the Supreme Court, there have only been four women - three of whom are currently on the bench. Fifty nine of the 175 active judges currently sitting on the thirteen federal courts of appeal are female (33%).

These numbers are even worse for women of color

  • 11% of Supreme Court Justices
  • 5% of Federal Judges (excluding the Supreme Court)
  • 8% of State Judges

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. 

Unfortunately, this progress does not seem to be continuing under President Trump, who has appointed 84 active federal judges, with only 20 of them being women. 


Learn more about women in the judiciary

Sources: Federal Judicial Center Brennan Center for Justice, Center for American ProgressNational Women's Law Center, The Gavel Gap, Federal Judicial Center, National Association of Women Judges