The Yale Law Journal

May 2005

Female Judges Matter: Gender and Collegial Decisionmaking in the Federal Appellate Courts

Jennifer L. Peresie

114 Yale L.J. 1759 (2005)

This Note finds that the gender composition of the bench affected federal appellate court outcomes in Title VII sexual harassment and sex discrimination cases in 1999, 2000, and 2001. An empirical study (n = 1666) shows that female judges decided for plaintiffs more often than did male judges. Moreover, male judges on panels with female judges decided for plaintiffs more than twice as often as those on all-male panels. Gender mattered more than ideology in determining outcomes. The Note discusses four explanations for the observed effect of gender on collegial decisionmaking: deliberation, deference, logrolling, and moderation.