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4 Law & Ineq. 159 (1986)
The Gender of Judges

handle is hein.journals/lieq4 and id is 167 raw text is: The Gender of Judges
Suzanna Sherry*
The breadth and variety of the topics discussed at the 1985
NAWJ Convention raise a troubling question: is there any longer a
need for an association of women law judges? While a few of the
discussions center around women's issues,1 most do not. Such
diverse papers as Judicial Performance Evaluation and Manage-
ment of Complex Litigation would be equally appropriate for a
symposium of gender-unspecified judges. This suspicion of obso-
lescence is not limited to an association of women judges; I have
heard similar observations about various formal and informal as-
sociations of women law professors and women lawyers, and I sus-
pect that the same question arises in any field women have
recently but successfully integrated. As long as women are a be-
leaguered minority, all-female associations are easily explained
and justified by the need to share the special concerns that arise
from minority status. As those concerns diminish, however, such
associations become apparently more difficult to justify.
An association of women judges is defensible, however, if wo-
men judges differ significantly enough from male judges to provide
a unique asset to the judicial enterprise. That uniqueness can then
be nurtured by the give-and-take of annual meetings, and the par-
ticipants might then continue to contribute even more when they
return to the community at large. This essay suggests that women
judges are identifiably distinct from their male cohorts in three
ways. Women judges make a unique contribution to the legal sys-
tem by their presence, their participation, and their perspective.
The first two of these aspects of the feminization of the judiciary
may decrease in significance as discrimination wanes, but the in-
fluence of a feminine perspective is independent of the existence
of gender discrimination. Thus, I will briefly discuss the contribu-
* Associate Professor of Law, University of Minnesota. A.B., 1976, Middle-
bury College; J.D., 1979, University of Chicago.
1. See Edward Donnerstein, Cheryl Champion, Cass Sunstein & Catharine
MacKinnon, Pornography: Social Science, Legal, and Clinical Perspectives, 4 Law
& Inequality 17 (1986); Marilyn Loftus, Lynn Hecht Schafran & Norma Wikler, Es-
tablishing a Gender Bias Task Force, in id. at 103 [hereinafter cited as Gender
Bias]; Patricia Wald, The Role of Morality in Judging: A Woman Judge's Perspec-
tive, in id. at 3.

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