Monday, July 17, 2017
While it is over 40 years since women won the right to be included on jury selection panels, men continue to dominate most juries in serious criminal trials.
An analysis by The Irish Times of 200 trials in the Central Criminal Court, which deals almost exclusively with rape and murder, shows that men dominated the jury in 57 per cent of cases.
Women dominated the jury in only 17 per cent of cases, while there was an even six/six split between the genders in 26 per cent of cases.
The gender imbalance was most noticeable in rape trials, where 61 of 100 juries were dominated by men compared to only 13 dominated by women. To put it another way, 723 men sat on the juries compared to 477 women.
In murder cases male jurors were in the majority in 52 cases compared to 23 with female-majority juries.
Both the reasons and consequences of the gender imbalance in Irish juries remain unclear, mainly due to the secretive nature of jury selection and jury deliberation.
Many studies suggest women are more likely to judge female rape complainants harshly and to acquit men accused of rape. In 2009, Irish academics who studied 108 rape trials found that male-dominated juries had the highest conviction rate. There was not a single conviction in the 17 cases which had female-dominated juries.