Article Title

Gentlewomen of the Jury


This Article undertakes a contemporary assessment of the role of women on the jury. In 1946, at a time when few women served on U.S. juries, the all-male Supreme Court opined in Ballard v. United States: “The truth is that the two sexes are not fungible; a community made up exclusively of one is different from a community composed of both; the subtle interplay of influence of one on the other is among the imponderables.” Three-quarters of a century later, women’s legal and social status has changed dramatically, with increased participation in the labor force, expanded leadership roles, and the removal of legal and other barriers to their civic engagement, including jury service. Theoretical developments and research have produced new insights about how genderconforming individuals enact their gender roles. We combine these insights with a substantial body of jury research that has examined the effects of jurors’ gender on their decision-making processes and verdict preferences in criminal and civil cases. We also consider how nonbinary and gender-nonconforming individuals might bring distinctive perspectives and experiences to the jury. After a review of the historical record, describing shifts over time in women’s jury participation in the face of legal and societal barriers, we summarize evidence from decision-making research, gender scholarship, and jury studies to examine whether women bring a different voice to jury service. Our review, which demonstrates substantial commonalities as well as significant areas of divergence in jurors’ attitudes and verdicts as a function of their gender, altogether underscores the importance of full and equitable participation on the jury.