Friday, January 27, 2023
Study Shows Intergenerational Gap in Decisionmaking by Women Judges, with Women Coming of Age Before 1963 Voting with Significantly Higher Progressive Inclinations
Isaach Unah, Ryan Williams & Stephanie Zaino, Echoes of the Feminine Mystique: Female Judges and Intergenerational Change in the United States Courts of Appeal, Journal of Law & Politics (forthcoming)
Is there an intergenerational gap in decision-making among female judges? Do female judges from United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s generation hold a different orientation to law and policy as compared to judges from younger generations? Reviewing different theoretical perspectives regarding gender and judging, we examine the significance of intergenerational change among female judges whose political coming-of-age occurred at different historical intervals. We explore how this change informs decisional outcomes in the U.S. courts of appeals. To designate a temporal marker of intergenerational change, we use Betty Friedan’s publication of The Feminine Mystique in 1963. Our analysis indicates that despite the traditionalistic culture in which they grew up, female judges who came of age prior to publication of The Feminine Mystique voted with significantly higher progressive inclinations compared to female judges who came of age after the book’s emergence. We explore the implications of this finding for judicial decision-making.