Female Judges Outnumber Men but are Underrepresented in Management
The Council of Europe (CoE) presented the study ‘The main factors contributing to the underrepresentation of women judges in the management of the common courts in Georgia’ which revealed that 53.3% of judges in Georgia are female, however, their representation in managerial positions is significantly low.
The study was prepared by Analysis and Consultation Group (ACT) for the Council of Europe project “Support to the Judicial Reform in Georgia” and combines quantitative and qualitative research methods. The initial stage of the study involved a qualitative survey: in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with judges, representatives of the High School of Justice, the High Council of Justice, the Parliament, NGO sector, field experts and law students in three cities of Georgia: Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Zestaponi. At the second stage of the study, the quantitative survey was conducted through online questionnaires involving judges, as well as Court Managers and judicial assistants of the court.
The survey reads that as of October 2018, the total number of judges in Georgia reached 306. Of 26 heads of the courts, only four are women, while in nine chambers only two chairs are female and the rest are men. In addition to this, all chairmen of the board are male.
The statistics show that since 2010, the number of female and male judges in courts of first and second instance has been almost equal, and has changed little from year to year. As for the third instance, in the ACT study we read that there are significantly more male judges than women.
The organization said the fact that the number of female judges in the Supreme Court from 2014 to 2016 increased from 21% to 38% is a positive trend. At present, the share of female judges in the court is 36%.
The study reads that time poverty emerges as a barrier for women to achieve career advancement.
“Unlike their male counterparts, women judges often struggle to balance work and family responsibilities. The burden of administrative tasks related to the managerial position in the judiciary makes it less attractive to women,” it says.
Based on the study results, two contradictory discourses were revealed in terms of determining the criteria for appointing chairpersons of courts/boards/chambers.
“As perceived by NGO representatives, the absence of set criteria and procedures is problematic, as the process is not transparent and enables various groups to make subjective decisions; judges on the other hand believe that setting criteria for appointing judges to management positions may be counterproductive,” the study reads.
In addition to this, it also identified potential incentives that could encourage a more balanced representation of women judges in managerial positions: reducing the judicial workload, removing managerial functions from chairpersons, increasing the duration of paid parental leave and introducing relatively flexible work hours.
The CoE says that introducing a target number as a mechanism to increase the share of women in the management of the court system was also addressed in the study. One discourse says that a quota is an important mechanism to increase the share of women in the management of the court system. The second discourse notes the introduction of a quota is positive discrimination and may backfire instead of supporting the representation of women in management.
It added that according to the judges participating in the study, the system has two main challenges and they are not associated with gender but with trust and the backlog of the courts.
The study was funded by the voluntary contributions of Bulgaria, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, the Slovak Republic and Sweden to support the implementation of the Council of Europe Action plan for Georgia 2016-2019.
By Tea Mariamidze
Image source: complex.com
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