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Feminized Justice: The Impact of Women Decision Makers in the Lower Courts in Australia

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 12 Issue: 1 Dated: (March 1995) Pages: 177-205
K Laster; R Douglas
Date Published
29 pages
This study explores the impact of the professionalization of the magistracy in Victoria, Australia, which allowed, approximately 10 years ago, the appointment of women as salaried magistrates.
Data were collected through interviews with 30 male and female magistrates, comprising approximately one-third of the bench. The interviews focused on respondents' reactions to the major procedural, substantive, and organizational changes that had occurred in the summary jurisdiction over the past decade. The respondents generally showed ready acceptance of women magistrates. The influence of women as judicial decisionmakers was believed to have positively affected the work environment of the courts. While men and women differed in how they perceived their judicial role in terms of adjudication, sentencing, and the conduct of informal proceedings, it appears that these differences were more a function of age and background than gender-based perspectives on justice. Changes in court ideology suggest that the appointment of women may have been used to further more general political objectives. 14 notes and 41 references