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Gender Bias is Alive and Well in U.S. State Courts
Unformatted Document Text:  who had experienced gender bias, women who understood gender bias, women insiders who also understood judicial politics. The NAWJ was founded in 1979 when 100 women judges from all across the United States met in Los Angeles at the behest of California Judge Joan Dempsey Klein. Arizona state court judge, Sandra Day O’Connor was among those attending. The growth of the NAWJ has matched the growth in the number of women judges. The NAWJ now numbers well over a one-thousand members, including over half of the women judges in the United States, and both former Supreme Court Justice O’Connor and present Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg. Those 100 founding women judges established a specific objective of placing the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court,( the story of their successful behind-the-scenes efforts has been told elsewhere). Other inaugural goals of the group were to work for judicial selection of women, to speak out against sex discrimination in general and to fight to end discrimination specifically against women judges. NAWJ does not call itself a feminist organization; it is an inclusive and bipartisan organization that welcomes judges of all ideological stripes, both men and women, subject only to a “commitment to further the interests of women judges.” Yet its 1980 decision to sponsor a National Judicial Education Program to educate state court judges about gender bias and its effects on the administration of justice set it on the road to pursuing a major goal that seems very much in line with feminist thought and through a methodology equally in line with feminist thought. It is hard to imagine a feminist who would not laud the creation of Gender Bias Task Forces to document evidence of gender bias in the courts, using ‘hard’ social science techniques but still making room for 2

Authors: Martin, Elaine.
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who had experienced gender bias, women who understood gender bias, women insiders
who also understood judicial politics.
The NAWJ was founded in 1979 when 100 women judges from all across the
United States met in Los Angeles at the behest of California Judge Joan Dempsey Klein.
Arizona state court judge, Sandra Day O’Connor was among those attending. The growth
of the NAWJ has matched the growth in the number of women judges. The NAWJ now
numbers well over a one-thousand members, including over half of the women judges in
the United States, and both former Supreme Court Justice O’Connor and present
Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg. Those 100 founding women judges established a
specific objective of placing the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court,( the story of
their successful behind-the-scenes efforts has been told elsewhere). Other inaugural
goals of the group were to work for judicial selection of women, to speak out against sex
discrimination in general and to fight to end discrimination specifically against women
judges.
NAWJ does not call itself a feminist organization; it is an inclusive and bipartisan
organization that welcomes judges of all ideological stripes, both men and women,
subject only to a “commitment to further the interests of women judges.” Yet its 1980
decision to sponsor a National Judicial Education Program to educate state court judges
about gender bias and its effects on the administration of justice set it on the road to
pursuing a major goal that seems very much in line with feminist thought and through a
methodology equally in line with feminist thought. It is hard to imagine a feminist who
would not laud the creation of Gender Bias Task Forces to document evidence of gender
bias in the courts, using ‘hard’ social science techniques but still making room for
2


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