77 Judicature 166 (1993-1994)
The Representative Role of Women Judges

handle is hein.journals/judica77 and id is 180 raw text is: The representative role of women judges
The mission of the National Association of Women Judges, as well as the views of members and
non-members, suggest that women judges tend to embrace a role that is representative of their gender.
by Elaine Martin

A n issue of continuing in-
terest in women and poli-
tics research is the repre-
sentation of women's inter-
ests by women officeholders. This is-
sue is generally framed in terms of
whether women officeholders merely
stand for other women in the nu-
merical sense or whether they act
for women,' There seems to be a
clear consensus that simple fairness re-
quires increased numerical represen-
tation for women in political office. It
is not so clear that such an increase
will result in an increase in the interest
representation of women.
Early research on women political
elites found little support for the propo-
sition that women officeholders would
impact public policy promoting wom-
en's interests any differently from men
officeholders. A variety of explanations
was offered for this lack of expected sup-
port, a major one being tokenism.'
As women's representation on legisla-
tive bodies has become less tokenistic, a
more complex line of research has devel-
oped. For example, recent research has
found that the likelihood of women leg-
islators' promotion of women's interests
is related to factors such as their commit-
ment to feminist ideology,4 the existence
of a supportive network of other women
legislators,5 and the proportion of
women in the legislature.6
A more controversial stream of
scholarship takes the view that
women's potential behavioral differ-
ences from men are rooted in gender

role differences in behavior patterns
that are either biologically or cultur-
ally induced. In this literature, the fo-
cus is on gender differences as ex-
pressed in styles of personal interac-
tion rather than voting patterns. Men
are characterized as more instrumen-
tal and women as more contextual
in their modes of thinking and feel-
ing.7 It is suggested that pervasive
changes in institutional norms, values,
and processes may occur as women
achieve numerical representation.'
Judicial literature
Although the research on women
judges is quite sparse, it parallels the
research on women legislators to some
extent. Judicial scholars have stressed
The research for this article was partially funded
by the Center for the American Woman and Poli-
tics, The Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers
University. Opinions expressed are the author's
alone.
1. Pitkin, THE CONCEPT OF REPRESENTATION (Ber-
keley: University of California Press, 1967).
2. Sapiro, When Are Interests Interesting? The Prob-
lem of Political Representation of Women, 75 Am. POL.
ScI. REv. 701 (1981).
3. Kanter, MEN AND WOMEN IN CORPORATIONS
(New York: Basic Books, 1977).
4. Carroll and Taylor, Gender Differences in
Policy Priorities of U.S. State Legislators, paper
presented at the 1989 meeting of the American Po-
litical Science Association, Atlanta.
5. Carroll, WOMEN AS CANDIDATES IN AMERICAN
POLITICS (Bloomington: Indiana University Press,
1985).
6. Thomas and Welch, The Impact of Gender
on Activities and Priorities of State Legislators,
paper presented at the 1989 meeting of the Mid-
west Political Science Association, Chicago.
7. Gilligan, IN A DIFFERENT VOICE (Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1982); and Ruddick, Ma-
ternal Thinking, 6 FEMINIST STUDIES 342-356 (1930).
8. Ferguson, Work, Text and Act in Discourses of
Organization, 7 WOMEN AND POLITICS 1-21 (1987);

the fairness issue in supporting in-
creased numbers of women on the
bench.9 Early studies of women judges
found that they had more feminist atti-
tudes on women's issues, such as mari-
tal name change, than did their male
political party counterparts.10 More re-
cent survey research on women
judges' feminist attitudes supports
these early conclusions. Initial re-
search on possible gender-based dif-
ferences in judges' criminal sentenc-
ing patterns attributed the lack of
findings to tokenism, or women judges
having to make it in a man's world.'I2
Research on federal trial and appellate
courts also failed to find important dif-
ferences in case decisions by judicial
gender.3 This research, however, was
Kathlene, Gendered Approaches to Policy For-
mation in the Colorado Legislature, paper pre-
sented at the 1991 meeting of the Midwest Political
Science Association, Chicago; and VanWagner
and Swanson, From Machiavelli to Ms: Differences in
Male-Female Power Styles, 47 PUB. ADM. REv. 66-72
(1979).
9. Goldman, Should there be affirmative action for
the judiciary?, 62 JUDICATURE 489 (1979); and
Slotnick, The paths to the federal bench: gender, race
and judicial recruitment variation, 67JuDIcATuRE 370
(1984).
10. Cook, Will Women Judges Make a Difference in
Women's Legal Rights? A Prediction from Attitudes and
Simulated Behavior, in Rendel and Ainsworth (eds),
WOMEN, POWER AND POLITICAL SYSTEMS 216 (Lon-
don: Croom Helm, 1980).
11. Martin, Differences in Men and Women Judges:
Perspectives on Gender, 17J. POL. Sm.. 74-85 (1989).
12. Gruhl, Spohn and Welch, Women as Policy
Makers: the Case of Trial Judges, 25 AM. J. POL. SC.
308-22 (1981); and Kritzer and Uhlman, Sisterhood
in the Courtroom: Sex ofJudge and Defendant in Crimi-
nal Case Disposition, 14 Soc. Sci.J. 77-88 (1977).
13. Gottschall, Carter's judicial appointments: the
influence of affirmative action and merit selection on
voting on the U.S. courts of appeals, 67JUDICATURE 165
(1983).

166 Judicature   Volume 77, Number 3  November-December 1993

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