Gender Justice

German language media translated for TVR's Media Monitor

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 The judiciary is female, Aug 4. 

by Maria Sterkl

Men no longer set the tone in the Austrian judiciary: the majority of judges are female. […] At the beginning of the 80s, less than one in ten judges was female (in the Tyrol only one in twenty). Ten years ago, the proportion of women stood at 35%. Today, it is 51%, and among judges in training even 68%. […]

But the higher proportion of female judges is not celebrated as a further landmark in women’s emancipation. [Political scientist Birgitt Haller says that] “In our society, every profession which employs a lot of women becomes devalued.” Declining respect for the judiciary would have fatal consequences. […]

Charlotte Schillhammer, [Vice-President of the Judges’ Association], observes a “sad development”: “in any field that many women push into, the men withdraw.”

Similarly, Barbara Helige [a judge at the commercial court, Handelsgericht, in Vienna] views the smaller proportion of men as “worrying”: “it is a cause for concern when a part of the population feels increasingly unrepresented by the judiciary.”

But the judiciary, too, has a glass ceiling  […]: the higher levels of jurisdiction are still more likely to be the preserves of men, especially the highest courts. Women make up less than a third of the full members at the constitutional court [Verfassungsgerichtshof]; at the supreme administrative court [Verwaltungsgerichtshof] the proportion of women is even a dire 19%.

“You will take my wife’s side anyway,” men sometimes say to Helige [who often deals with divorced couples in her court]. Perhaps women facing male judges have a similar feeling. “But they would never say so.”

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