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Sex Discrimination

Gender Bias In The Courts

Beginning in the 1980s, many state court systems have established task forces to investigate the existence of gender bias in the courts. The reports of these task forces have documented sex discrimination, with its victims more often women than men. The task forces have found that much gender-biased behavior is unconscious and that the manifestations of bias, although often subtle, are deeply ingrained in state judicial systems. For example, the studies have noted the existence of stereotypes concerning victims of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE and sexual assault; many judges believe that women who are beaten by a spouse or raped have provoked the attack. These studies also have shown that judges do not always treat men and women equally in the courtroom. For example, judges may identify women appearing before them by their first name but use professional titles or "Mister" when addressing men. In response to these findings, states have set up judicial educational programs on the dangers of gender-based stereotypes and have modified judges' and lawyers' codes of conduct to explicitly prohibit gender-biased behavior. These task forces have also recommended that more women be appointed to the bench.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Secretary to SHAsSex Discrimination - Historical Background, Sex Discrimination And Title Vii: An Unusual Political Alliance, Sex Discrimination Laws