Skip to main content

Avoiding Adversariness? The Effects of Gender on Litigant Decision-Making

  • Claire B. Wofford (a1)

How does gender influence the American judicial system? Scholars interested in this question have focused on several areas, including the substance of the law (Bender 1993; Olsen 1995; Rifkin 1981), the presence of women on a jury (Fowler 2005; Marder 1987; Taylor-Thompson 2000), and the sex of criminal defendants (Sarnikar, Sorenson, and Oaxaca 2007; Starr 2012). Among political scientists in particular, most work has examined judicial decision-making and whether the rulings of female judges differ from those of their male counterparts. Results of these studies have been mixed: some indicate that female judges vote differently, at least in certain types of cases (Boyd, Epstein, and Martin 2010; Peresie 2005; Songer and Crews-Meyer 2000), but others have found no, or only a minimal, gender effect (Segal 2002; Songer, Davis, and Haire 1994; Walker and Barrow 1985).

Hide All
Abrams Kathyrn. 1991. “Feminist Lawyering and Legal Method.” Law & Social Inquiry 16 (2): 373404.
Anderson, Monica. 2014. “Vast Majority of Blacks View the Criminal Justice System as Unfair.” Pew Research Center Publication. (accessed February 17, 2017).
Bailey Michael, Kamoie Brian, and Maltzman Forrest. 2005. “Signals from the Tenth Justice: The Political Role of the Solicitor General in Supreme Court Decision Making.” American Journal of Political Science 49 (1): 7285.
Baird Vanessa. 2007. Answering the Call of the Court: How Justices and Litigants Set the Supreme Court Agenda. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.
Barnello Michelle A., and Bratton Kathleen A.. 2007. “Bridging the Gender Gap in Bill Sponsorship.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 32 (3): 449–74.
Bartlett Katherine. 1990. “Feminist Legal Methods.” Harvard Law Review 103: 829–88.
Bebchuk Lucian. 1984. “Litigation and Settlement under Imperfect Information.” RAND Journal of Economics 15 (3): 404.
Bender Leslie. 1993. “An Overview of Feminist Tort Scholarship.” Cornell Law Review 78 (4): 575–96.
Biskupic Joan. 2015. “The Echo Chamber.” Special Report for Reuters Press. (accessed February 17, 2017).
Black Ryan C., and Owens Ryan. 2012. The Solicitor General and the United States Supreme Court: Executive Influence and Judicial Decisions. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Booth Alison L., and Nolen Patrick J.. 2009. “Choosing to Compete: How Different are Girls and Boys?” CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP7214. (accessed February 17, 2017).
Boyd Christina L. 2013. “She'll Settle It?Journal of Law and Courts 1 (2): 193219.
Boyd Christina L., and Hoffman David A.. 2013. “Litigating Toward Settlement.” Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization 29 (4): 898929.
Boyd Christina L., Epstein Lee, and Martin Andrew D.. 2010. “Untangling the Causal Effects of Sex on Judging.” American Journal of Political Science. 54(2): 389411.
Boyd Christina L., Hoffman David A., Obradovic Zoran, and Ristovski Kosta. 2013. “Building a Taxonomy of Litigation: Clusters of Causes of Action in Federal Civil Complaints.” Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 10 (1): 253–87.
Brown Judith Olans, Parmet Wendy E., and O'Connell Mary E.. 1999. “The Rugged Feminism of Sandra Day O'Connor.” Indiana Law Review 32: 1219–46.
Burke Sarah, and Collins Karen M.. 2001. “Gender Differences in Leadership Styles and Management Skills.” Women in Management Review 16 (5): 244–57.
Byrnes James P., Miller David C., and Schafer William D.. 1999. “Gender Differences in Risk Taking: A Meta-Analysis.” Psychological Bulletin 125 (3): 367–83.
Caldeira Gregory A., and Wright John R.. 1988. “Organized Interests and Agenda Setting in the U.S. Supreme Court.” American Political Science Review 82 (4): 1109–27.
Cammisa Anne Marie, and Reingold Beth. 2004. “Women in State Legislatures and State Legislative Research: Beyond Sameness versus Difference.” State Politics & Policy Quarterly 4 (2): 181210.
Campbell A. 2002. A Mind of Her Own: The Evolutionary Psychology of Women. New York: Oxford University Press.
Carey John M., Niemi Richard G., and Powell Lynda W.. 1998. “Are Women State Legislators Different?” In Women and Elective Office: Past, Present, and Future, ed. Thomas Susan and Wilcox Clyde. New York: Oxford University Press, 87102.
Carroll Susan J. 1984. “Woman Candidates and Support for Feminist Concerns.” Western Political Quarterly 37 (2): 307–23.
Carroll Susan J. 2001. “Representing Women: Women State Legislators as Agents of Policy-Related Change.” In The Impact of Women in Public Office, ed. Susan Carroll. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Charness Gary, and Gneezy Uri. 2012. “Strong Evidence for Gender Differences in Risk Taking.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 83 (1): 5058.
Colker Ruth. 1990. “Feminist Litigation: An Oxymoron? A Study of the Briefs Filed in William L. Webster v. Reproductive Health Services .” Harvard Women's Law Journal 13: 137–88.
Collins Paul M. Jr. 2008. Friends of the Supreme Court: Interest Groups and Judicial Decision Making. New York: Oxford University Press.
Cross Frank B. 2003. “Decision-Making in the U.S. Circuits Courts of Appeals.” California Law Review 91(6): 14591516.
de Figueiredo John M. 2005. “Strategic Plaintiffs and Ideological Judges in Telecommunications LitigationJournal of Law, Economics, & Organizations 21 (2): 501.
Dodson Debra L., and Carroll Susan J.. 1991. Reshaping the Agenda: Women in State Legislatures. New Brunswick, NJ: Center for American Women and Politics.
Donohue John J. III. 1988. “Law and Economics: The Road Not Taken.” Law & Society Review 22 (5): 903.
Drahozal Christopher, and Hylton Keith. 2003. “The Economics of Litigation and Arbitration: An Application to Franchise Contract.” The Journal of Legal Studies 32 (2): 549–84.
Epstein Lee. 1991. “Courts and Interest Groups.” In The American Courts: A Critical Assessment, ed. Johnson Charles & Gates John. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 2015. “Enforcement and Litigation Statistics.” (accessed February 17, 2017).
Ertaca Seda, and Gurdalb Mehmet Y.. 2012. “Deciding to Decide: Gender, Leadership and Risk-Taking in Groups.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 83: 2430.
Epstein Lee, Segal Jeffrey A., and Johnson Timothy. 1996. “The Claim of Issue Creation on the U.S. Supreme Court.” American Political Science Review 90 (4): 845852.
Fowler Lucy. 2005. “Gender and Jury Deliberations: The Contributions of Social Science.” William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law 12 (1): 148.
Gilligan Carol. 1982. In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Gneezy Uri, Leonard Kenneth L., and List John A.. 2009. “Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence from a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society.” Econometrica 77 (5): 1637–64.
Harris Christine R., and Jenkins Michael. 2006. “Gender Differences in Risk Assessment: Why do Women Take Fewer Risks than Men?Judgment and Decision Making 1 (1): 4863.
Hogarth Robin M., Karelaiab Natalia, and Trujillo Carlos Andrés. 2012. “When Should I Quit? Gender Differences in Exiting Competitions.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 83 (1): 136150.
Hylton Keith N. 2002. “The Economics of Litigation and Arbitration: An Application to Franchise Contracts.” International Review of Law and Economics 22 (2): 153–75.
Kahn Kim Fridkin. 1994. “Does Gender Make a Difference? An Experimental Examination of Sex Stereotypes and Press Patterns in Statewide Campaigns.” American Journal of Political Science. 38 (1): 162–95.
Kritzer Herbert M., and Uhlman Thomas M.. 1977. “Sisterhood in the Courtroom: Sex of Judge and Defendant in Criminal Case Disposition.” Social Sciences Journal 14 (2): 7788.
Landes William. 1971. “An Economic Analysis of the Courts.” Journal of Law and Economics. 14(1): 61107.
Lawless Jennifer L., and Fox Richard L.. 2010. It Still Takes A Candidate: Why Women Don't Run for Office. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Lawless Jennifer L., and Fox Richard L.. 2012. “Men Rule: The Continued Under-Representation of Women in U.S. Politics. Women and Politics Institute. (accessed March 27, 2017).
Lazarus Richard James. 2008. “Advocacy Matters before and within the Supreme Court: Transforming the Court by Transforming the Bar.” Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 1022629. (accessed February 22, 2017).
Long J. Scott. 1987. “A Graphical Method for the Interpretation of Multinomial Logit Analysis.” Sociological Methods Research 15 (4): 420–56.
Long J. Scott, and Freese Jeremy. 2003. Regression Models for Categorical Variables Using Stata, 2nd ed. College Station, TX: Stata Publishing.
Longazel Jamie G., Parker Lauren. S., and Su Ivan. Y.. 2011. “Experiencing Court, Experiencing Race: Perceived Procedural Injustice among Court Users. Race and Justice 1 (2): 202–27.
MacKinnon Catherine A. 1990. Toward a Feminist Theory of the State. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Maestas Cherie D., Fulton Sarah, Maisel L. Sandy, and Stone Walter J.. 2006. “Institutions, Ambitions, and the Decision to Run for the U.S. House.” The American Political Science Review 100 (2): 195208.
Marder Nancy S. 1987. “Gender Dynamics and Jury Deliberations.” Yale Law Journal 96: 593611.
Marshall Anna Maria and Hale Daniel Crocker. 2014. “Cause Lawyering.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 10: 301–20.
McCammon Holly J., and McGrath Allison R.. 2015. “Litigating Change? Social Movements and the Court System.” Sociology Compass 9 (2): 128–39.
McGuire Kevin T. 1995. “Repeat Players in the Supreme Court: The Role of Experienced Lawyers in Litigation Success.” Journal of Politics 57 (1): 187–93.
Menkel-Meadow Carrie. 1985. “Portia in a Different Voice: Speculations on a Women's Lawyering Process.” Berkeley Women's Law Journal 1: 3956.
Noddings Nel. 2003. Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Olsen Frances, ed. 1995. Feminist Legal Theory II: Positioning Feminist Theory within the Law. New York: Dartmouth Publishing/NYU Press.
Peresie Jennifer L. 2005. “Female Judges Matter: Gender and Collegial Decision Making in the Federal Appellate Courts.” Yale Law Journal 114 (7): 1759–90.
Priest George, and Klein Benjamin. 1984. “The Selection of Disputes for Litigation.” Journal of Legal Studies 13 (1): 135.
Rackley Erika. 2012. Women, Judging and the Judiciary: From Difference to Diversity. New York: Routledge.
Reinganum Jennifer. 1988. “Plea Bargaining and Prosecutorial Discretion.” The American Economic Review, 78(4): 713728.
Reingold Beth. 1996. “Conflict and Cooperation: Legislative Strategies and Concepts of Power among Female and Male State Legislators.” Journal of Politics. 58(2): 464485.
Reingold Beth. 2000. Representing Women: Sex, Gender, and Legislative Behavior in Arizona and California. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Reingold Beth. 2008. “Women as Officeholders: Linking Descriptive and Substantive Representation.” In Political Women and American Democracy, ed. Wolbrecht Christina, Beckwith Karen, and Baldez Lisa. New York: Cambridge University Press, 128–47.
Reingold Beth, and Haynie Kerry L.. 2014. “Representing Women's Interests and Intersections of Gender, Race, and Ethnicity in U.S. State Legislatures.” In Representation: The Case of Women, ed. Escobar-Lemmon Maria C. and Taylor-Robinson Michelle M.. New York: Oxford University Press, 183204.
Reingold Beth, and Swers Michele A.. 2011. “An Endogenous Approach to Women's Interests: When Interests are Interesting in and of Themselves.” Politics & Gender 7 (3): 429–35.
Rhode Deborah L., ed. 2002: The Difference Makes: Women and Leadership. Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press.
Rifkin Janet 1981. “Toward a Theory of Law and Patriarchy.” Harvard Women's Law Journal 3: 8395.
Rosenthal Cindy Simon. 2000. “Gender Styles in State Legislative Committees: Raising Their Voices in Resolving Conflict.” Women & Politics 21 (2): 2145.
Sanchirico Chris William, ed. 2012. Procedural Law and Economics. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Sarat Austin, and Scheingold Stuart A., eds. 2006. Cause Lawyers and Social Movements. Los Angeles CA: Stanford University Press.
Sarnikar Supriya, Sorensen Todd, and Oaxaca Ronald L.. 2007. “Do You Receive a Lighter Prison Sentence Because You are a Woman? An Economic Analysis of Federal Criminal Sentencing Guidelines.” Working paper no. 2870, Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn, Germany. (accessed February 22, 2017).
Segal Jennifer A. 2002. “Representative Decision Making on the Federal Bench: Clinton's District Court Appointees.” Political Research Quarterly. 53 (137): 142–47.
Sherry Susanna. 1986. “Civic Virtue and the Feminine Voice in Constitutional Adjudication.” Virginia Law Review 72 (2): 543.
Siegelman Peter, and Donohue John J. III. 1995. “The Selection of Employment Discrimination Disputes for Litigation: Using Business Cycle Effects to Test the Priest-Klein Hypothesis.” Journal of Legal Studies 24 (2): 427.
Sisk Gregory C., Heise Michael, and Morris Andrew P.. 1998. “Charting the Influences on the Judicial Mind: An Empirical Study of Judicial Reasoning.” NYU Law Review 73 (5): 13771500.
Songer Donald R., Cameron Charles M., and Segal Jeffrey A.. 1995. “An Empirical Test of the Rational-Actor Theory of Litigation.” The Journal of Politics 57 (4): 1119–29.
Songer Donald R., and Crews-Meyer Kelley A.. 2000. “Does Judge Gender Matter? Decision Making in State Supreme Courts.” Social Science Quarterly. 81 (3): 750–62.
Songer Donald R., Davis Sue, and Haire Susan. 1994. “A Reappraisal of Diversification in the Federal Courts: Gender Effects in the Courts of Appeals.” Journal of Politics 56 (2): 425–39.
Starr Sonja B. 2012. “Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases.” University of Michigan Law and Economics Research Paper, no. 12–018. (accessed February 22, 2017).
Swers Michele L. 2002. The Difference Women Make: The Policy Impact of Women in Congress. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Swers Michele L. 2013. Women in the Club: Gender and Policy Making in the Senate. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Taylor-Thompson Kim. 2000. “Empty Votes in Jury Deliberations.” Harvard Law Review 113 (6): 12611320.
Thomas Sue. 1994. How Women Legislate. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Tyler Tom, and Huo Yuen J.. 2002. Trust in the Law. New York: Russel Sage Foundation.
Volden Craig, Wiseman Alan. E., and Wittmer Dana. E.. 2013a. “When are Women More Effective Lawmakers than Men?American Journal of Political Science 57 (2): 326–41.
Volden Craig, Wiseman Alan. E., and Wittmer Dana. E.. 2013b. “Women's Issues and Their Fates in Congress.” CSDI Working Paper 07-2013, Vanderbilt University.
Waldfogel Joel. 1998. “Reconciling Asymmetric Information and Divergent Expectations: Theories of Litigation.” Journal of Law & Economics 41 (2): 451–76.
Walker Thomas G., and Barrow Deborah J.. 1985. “The Diversification of the Federal Bench: Policy and Process Ramifications.” Journal of Politics 47 (2): 596617.
Watts Alison. 1994. “Bargaining through an Expert Attorney.” Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization 10 (1): 168.
Wittman Donald. 1988. “Dispute Resolution, Bargaining, and the Selection of Cases for Trial: A Study of the Generation of Biased and Unbiased Data.” Journal of Legal Studies 17 (3): 313.
Wolbrecht Christina. 2000. The Politics of Women's Rights: Parties, Positions, and Change. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Yates Jeff, Cann Damon M., and Boyea Brent D.. 2013. “Judicial Ideology and the Selection of Disputes for U.S. Supreme Court Adjudication.” Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 10 (4) 847–65.
Yates Jeff, and Coggins Elizabeth. 2009. “The Intersection of Judicial Attitudes and Litigant Selection Theories: Explaining U.S. Supreme Court Decision-Making.” Journal of Law & Policy 29: 263.
Zorn Christopher J. W. 2002. “U.S. Government Litigation Strategies in the Federal Appellate Courts.” Political Research Quarterly 55 (1): 145–66.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Politics & Gender
  • ISSN: 1743-923X
  • EISSN: 1743-9248
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-gender
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Wofford supplementary material
Supplementary abstract

 Word (12 KB)
12 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 19
Total number of PDF views: 72 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 425 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 3rd July 2017 - 16th January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.