Judicial Selection and the Underrepresentation of Women on the Pennsylvania Courts of Common Pleas


  • Heather Frederick




This article explores several factors affecting the representation of women on Pennsylvania’s Courts of Common Pleas. First, it considers whether women are underrepresented as judges on these courts. Second, it investigates whether women are more likely to become judges on these courts through partisan election or through gubernatorial appointment. Third, it examines whether Democratic governors are more likely than their Republican counterparts to appoint female judges to these courts. The article concludes that even though little gender bias is attributable to the method of selecting judges for the Courts of Common Pleas, women are nonetheless greatly underrepresented as judges on this level of thePennsylvania judiciary. The striking difference between the number of women in the Pennsylvania bar and the number of female judges on the state’s Courts of Common Pleas also indicates that women have not achieved parity on the bench and that the size of the eligibility pool is not necessarily a valid explanatory factor.