Women are underrepresented on high courts around the world, yet gains have been made in some countries in recent years. Gender inequality on the bench poses potential problems for women’s rights, democratic equality, fairness in the judicial process, and public confidence in the judiciary. The goal of this project is to help to answer the important question: Why have more women been appointed to high courts in some countries and at some points in time than others? The study’s central hypothesis is that the international diffusion of norms of equality contributes to the increasing appointment of women to high courts.

The multi-method project tests this central hypothesis by pursuing three objectives:
1) collect and analyze data on the appointment of all men and women to constitutional, and supreme courts from 1970 to 2010 for 168 countries, building a dataset that does not currently exist;
2) collect cross-national data on the procedures of nomination and appointment to high courts, including those not available through the Comparative Constitutions Project;
3) conduct case studies in four countries to shed light on how those entrusted with the selection of justices are influenced by external and internal pressures to appoint more women to high courts.

Please note: We intend to make the data available from this study, but not before 2015 or possibly 2016.

A cross-national, cross-temporal study of the gender of justices appointed to high courts will elucidate international and national sources of change in national legal institutions.

This research is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation – Law and Social Sciences Division. The research team includes: Maria Escobar-Lemmon (Texas A&M University), Valerie Hoekstra (Arizona State University), Alice Kang (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) and Miki Kittilson (Arizona State University).