chapter  14
13 Pages

Gender and Minority Representation at the Bar and on the Bench

ByCynthia Siemsen, Kimberlee Candela

Three decades ago, Cynthia Fuchs Epstein’s pioneering research, Women in Law, focused on women in the legal profession as outliers from the typical career trajectory for women (Epstein, 1993). Recent sociological studies concentrate more on how women’s presence alters the profession on both sides of the legal bench. What follows is a brief overview of literature on women lawyers and judges with particular focus on the United States. We begin with a discussion of women’s historical entrance into law as students, attorneys and judges within the larger organizational context. Throughout we examine the gendered and raced segregation of law, structural barriers and status inequalities present in law’s organizational practices and the women whose legal careers are spent in what continues to be a white male hierarchy. Women’s roles as lawyers and judges in the transformation of law, the structural obstacles to its transformation and feminist concerns to redefine law are central to our discussion.