Judge gender, critical mass, and decision making in the appellate courts of Canada

Susan W. Johnson, Donald R. Songer, Nadia A. Jilani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In this study, we explore gendered patterns of voting, and whether such patterns appear only after a critical mass of female justices is reached by analyzing the votes of justices in the Supreme Court of Canada. We employ a logistic regression model of the differences in the voting behavior of male versus female justices, using the universe of Supreme Court votes from 1982 through 2007. Our analysis supports the conclusion that women vote more liberally on civil rights, equality, and private economic cases, and more conservatively on criminal cases. However, we find no evidence that indicates a need for a critical mass of women justices for them to vote their sincere preferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-260
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Women, Politics and Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Appellate courts
  • Canadian courts
  • Critical mass
  • Gendered voting
  • Judge gender
  • Judicial decision-making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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