Female matriculation in law school has increased significantly over time. In fact since 1992, the ratio between female to male law students has approached 50/50. Despite the relative equality among male and female law students, women’s representation in the judicial branch remains shockingly low. This is true among both female judges and prosecutors.
The federal court has three main levels: district courts, circuit courts, and the Supreme Court. There are currently three women on Supreme Court. In all of American history, only four of 112 Supreme Court Justices have been women. Sixty of 167 active judges sitting on the 13 federal courts of appeal are female; this is about 36% of all sitting judges. Thirty-three percent of US district court judges are women. There are still six district courts around the country where there has never been a female judge and four district courts that have had a female judge, but do not currently have one. Even more striking is the lack of women of color. Out of the 3,000 federal judges across the country this year, only eight-two are women of color. Six federal courts of appeal do not have a single active minority woman judge. The lack of women on the bench limits diverse experiences and perspectives that are critical for informed judicial rulings.
Disparity between gender and race exists among prosecutors as well. Prosecutors are in charge of deciding whether to bring a case to trial or to drop charges against a defendant. Additionally they decide whether to charge a misdemeanor or a felony, or to demand prison sentence or. accept probation. According to the Reflective Democracy Campaign, 95% of prosecutors are white, and 79% are white men. Sixteen percent of prosecutors are white women, and only 1% of prosecutors are women of color. Eighty-five percent of prosecutors run for reelection unopposed, decreasing the likelihood of a significant statistical change.
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We at the Women’s Leadership Institute works hard to support and enable women attorneys to run for office as prosecutors and judges. The staff at the Women’s Leadership Institute and Chopard Consulting along with the faculty are donating their time to build the capacity of the next generation of women leaders in the American judicial system. If you would like to be a sponsor or contribute money to defray conference expenses, provide scholarships to career prosecutors who would like to attend, and faculty travel expenses, please consider a making contribution. Registration fees ($499 per person) are charged to cover the cost of the training and are not used to distribute profits of any kind to supporting organizations. For more information on sponsorship, please email us. Contributors will receive recognition on this website unless they request to remain anonymous. Thank you for your contribution to empowering women leaders around the country to uphold our democracy and the rule of law.