The aim of the Judicial Diversity Initiative is to promote the equal participation of women and men from a diverse range of backgrounds, experiences and identities in the judiciary in England and Wales by 2020.
The JDI serves as a forum for bringing together academics, practitioners, judges and policy-makers to work towards greater diversity on the bench. The activities of the JDI include:
- Tracking, recording and analysing official data on applications for judicial appointments and appointment decisions.
- Disseminating this data in order to draw attention to ongoing or particular problems as well as to highlight achievements and progress.
- Maintaining an accessible site for a range of policy material, academic papers, lectures and speeches on the subject of gender diversity in the judiciary.
- Promoting debate through seminars, online discussion and the dissemination of academic research and policy papers.
- Responding to consultation papers and providing input to proposed initiatives from government, the judicial appointments commission and the legal profession.
- Informing media debate on the appointment of women judges.
- Identifying effective mechanisms for informing, mentoring and encouraging high calibre potential women candidates for judicial office at different stages of their careers.
The JDI is particularly concerned with the participation on the bench of women from under-represented groups such as black and minority ethnic women, disabled women, lesbians and transsexuals, and women from non-traditional or socially disadvantaged backgrounds.
What do we mean by equal participation of men and women on the bench?
Gender parity requires that there should be no fewer than 40 per cent and no more than 60 per cent of women and men from diverse backgrounds at all levels of the judiciary. We call this the ‘40:60 rule’.
Background to the JDI
By the mid-1990s women and men were equally represented among newly qualified lawyers. In recent years women have increasingly outnumbered men in the qualifying cohorts of both barristers and solicitors. By 2020 the balance of women and men in the legal profession will therefore be such that there will be no legitimate justification for the continued over-representation of men on the bench. Yet the Equalities and Human Rights Commission estimates that at the current rate of progress it will be 55 years before there is gender parity in the judiciary; over a century after the first woman judge was appointed. In the light of this very slow progress, it is clear that concerted and proactive efforts are needed across a range of different institutions and through a variety of different initiatives for the goal of parity by 2020 to be achieved. The JDI will work to provide input, co-ordination and support for initiatives which will lead to gender equality on the bench.
The JDI Executive Committee is composed of:
- Professor Lizzie Barmes (Queen Mary University of London)
- Dr Michael Blackwell (London School of Economics)
- Dame Laura Cox (Former High Court Judge, QBD)
- Dame Linda Dobbs (Former High Court Judge, QBD)
- Sascha Grimm (Cooley)
- Professor Rosemary Hunter (Queen Mary University of London)
- Byron Karemba (University of Leeds)
- Professor Kate Malleson (Queen Mary, University of London)
- Karon Monaghan QC (Matrix Chambers)
- Professor Les Moran (Birkbeck University of London)
- Professor Erika Rackley (University of Birmingham)
- Professor Hilary Sommerlad (University of Leeds)
- Dame Ingrid Ann Simler (High Court Judge, QBD)
- Professor Iyiola Solanke (University of Leeds)