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NZ Supreme Court leads in proportion of women judges

22 June 2017

With a majority of women now making up its permanent members, New Zealand's Supreme Court has a higher proportion of women than the highest courts in other common law jurisdictions.

Australia, Canada and Ireland have near equal representation, while Hong Kong, India and the United Kingdom have the highest proportion of men.

The benches of highest courts, common law jurisdictions
JurisdictionMenWomenTotal% Men% Women
New Zealand23540.0%60.0%
Hong Kong404100.0%0.0%
United Kingdom1011190.9%9.1%
United States63966.7%33.3%

*Maximum of 31 judges permitted; **Judges of Appeal and Chief Justice.

New Zealand's Supreme Court sat for the first time with a majority of permanent women members on 13 June 2017. Both the New Zealand Law Society and the New Zealand Bar Association have acknowledged the landmark sitting.

"We can be proud that our highest court is leading the way among the courts of other similar jurisdictions,” New Zealand Law Society President Kathryn Beck said.

"This is a wonderful milestone for the profession. It demonstrates the quality and depth of female talent in the profession and its recognition in the highest echelons of the judiciary. It is a valuable step in the direction of the advancement of gender equity in the profession," New Zealand Bar Association Gender Equity Committee co-chairs Kate Davenport QC and James Farmer QC have said in  a statement.

While celebrating the sitting, Kathryn Beck, however, pointed to the gender balance on New Zealand's other courts, with men still comprising over two-thirds of sitting judges.

New Zealand Judiciary, 22 June 2017
CourtMenWomenTotal% Men% Women
Court of Appeal821080.0%20.0%
High (includes Associate Judges)29154465.9%34.1%
Māori Land731070.0%30.0%

Last updated on the 16th September 2019