Number of female judges in Indiana remains stagnant

May 17, 2011
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The good news is Indiana isn’t last when it comes to the number of female judges as compared to the rest of the country. The bad news is we aren’t anywhere near the top of the ranking. The so-so news is that even though we’ve gained three women on the federal bench in the last year, the number of women serving as federal and state judges remains at 20 percent of our total judges. We’ve also dropped three spots in our national ranking to 38 despite the fact our percentage remained the same. That means other states are putting more females on the bench than us.

A report by University of Albany’s Center for Women in Government & Civil Society of the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy finds that nationwide, women make up 23 percent of all federal judgeships and 27 percent of all state-level positions.

On the federal level, we’ve made great strides. We went from under 10 percent of our judges being women to just about 15 percent of our judicial makeup being female. But we are just 42nd in the country for our number of female judges. New Jersey is first, with 44 percent of its federal judiciary comprised of women. At least we aren’t Montana, where they have no women on their federal bench.

But Montana trounced us when it comes to female state judges – they are ranked third, at more than 37 percent female. We’re in the bottom half of the rankings, coming in at 39th with a little over 20 percent female state judges.

We are also one of the only states to not have a sitting female justice.

Despite women making up about half of law school graduates, no state is near achieving equal representation of 50 percent on the federal or state bench.

Do you think that how a judge is selected affects these numbers? Are women more likely to make it to the bench through judicial appointments or elections, or does the process even matter?

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