Journal article

It’s a man’s world: barriers to gender transformation in the South African judiciary. Perspectives from women advocates and attorneys

Research Areas

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Publication Details

Author list: Masengu T

Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles

Publication year: 2016

Journal: International Journal of the Legal Profession

Volume number: 23

Issue number: 3

Start page: 305

End page: 319

Total number of pages: 15

ISSN: 0969-5958

eISSN: 1469-9257



The judiciary in South Africa has made great strides in creating a diverse bench. However challenges continue as regards the appointment of women, some of which are attributable to the nature of the legal profession. Currently, there are 86 women judges in the Superior Courts nationally out of a total of 243. Judges are drawn from the professions of advocates, attorneys, magistracy and academia. Women in these areas of law are confronted with issues that have a bearing on any aspirations of future accession to the judicial bench. The aim of this article is to analyse two specific challenges faced by women advocates and attorneys that were identified over the course of the last three years through legal sector meetings. These are the unequal distribution of work and discriminatory perceptions of women’s abilities. I argue that the two factors are directly related to the inadequate representation of women on the bench. My argument will be informed by, amongst others, dialogues from the legal sector meetings, observations of the judicial appointments process and desktop research. I conclude that failing to engage with the identified obstacles will negate any efforts to further increase the number of women judges.


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Last updated on 2017-21-04 at 17:30