GENDER & JUSTICE: WHY WOMEN IN THE JUDICIARY REALLY MATTER by SALLY J. KENNEY and WOMEN, JUDGING AND THE JUDICIARY: FROM DIFFERENCE TO DIVERSITY by ERIKA RACKLEY

Publication Date01 Nov 2013
AuthorHILARY SOMMERLAD
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2013.00649.x
GENDER & JUSTICE: WHY WOMEN IN THE JUDICIARY REALLY
MATTER by SALLY J. KENNEY
(Abingdon: Routledge, 2012, 310 pp., £26.99)
WOMEN, JUDGING AND THE JUDICIARY: FROM DIFFERENCE TO
DIVERSITY by ERIKA RACKLEY
(Abingdon: Routledge, 2012, 232 pp., £80.00)
The judiciary is one of the most powerful institutions in the United Kingdom
and the United States. As the `highest norm in secular democracies',
1
law
presents as detached from society while its capacity to reinscribe the
properties of social fields as natural and hence legitimate `renders society
possible'.
2
The independence of the judiciary, and its central place in
common law countries' constitutions enhances this social construction work
± which depends on the positivist representation of the law not only as an
autonomous doctrine but also internally coherent and its interpreters as
neutral, universal figures. Yet this is as an institution which is saturated in
gender, class, and ethnicity ± and is both symbolic of and key to the defence
of existing power relations.
The complex of pre-modern myths of `bleached out'
3
judges who simply
find and declare the law, and the simultaneous naturalization of masculinity
and judging, became increasingly vul nerable to the forces of social
modernization from the 1960s onwards.
4
Critical scholarship revealed how
law's `appearance of dispassionate neutrality' facilitates `its task of assisting
in the reproduction of the conditions which subordinate women (as well as
other social groups)',
5
and exposed the significance of the male monopoly of
judging in the production of these gendered legal doctrines and reasoning.
6
Other work explored the power structures of the legal profession,
7
and how
these were maintained in the face of the usurpationary strategies of women
lawyers.
8
Nevertheless, the exponential increase in the numbers of women
699
1 R. Abel, English Lawyers between Market and State (2003) xv.
2 P. Fitzpatrick, `Being Social in Socio-Legal Studies' (1995) 22 J. Law and Society
(1995) 105, at 106.
3 S. Levinson, `Identifying the Jewish Lawyer: Reflections on the construction of
professional identity' (1993) 14 Cardozo Law Rev. 1577.
4 This is not to suggest that the law's claimed univocality and integrity had not been
challenged before this; see, for instance, the work of the Legal Realists.
5 N. Naffine, Law and the Sexes (1990) 3; and see C. Smart, Femininsm and the Power
of Law (1989).
6 R. Graycar, `Private Knowledge in Public Decision-Making' in Public and Private:
Feminist Legal Debates, ed. M. Thornton (1995).
7 See, for instance, T. Johnson, Professions and Power (1972).
8 A. Witz, Professions and Patriarchy (1992) ; and see J. Hagan and F. Kay, Gender in
Practice (1996); M. Thornton, Dissonance and Distrust: women in the legal
profession (1996); H. Sommerlad and P. Sanderson, Gender, Choice and Commitment
(1998).
ß2013 The Author. Journal of Law and Society ß2013 Cardiff University Law School

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