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In 1989, the Washington Supreme Court’s Task Force on Gender and Justice in the Courts produced a groundbreaking report on the impact of gender on selected areas of the law. It concluded that gender did affect the availability of justice. We – the Washington State Supreme Court Gender and Justice Commission – are a product of that report and its recommendations. Now, in 2021, we have completed our follow-up study.

Our legal and social science research, our data collection, and our independent pilot projects all led us to the same frustrating conclusion about the effect of gender in Washington State courts: trustworthy, factual data about the effect of gender in Washington courts is hard to find, and it is especially hard to find for Black, Indigenous, other people of color, and LGBTQ+1 people.

Still, based on the data in which we have a high degree of confidence, two points stand out: (1) gender matters – it does affect the treatment of court users (including litigants, lawyers, witnesses, jurors, and employees); and (2) the adverse impact of these gendered effects is most pronounced for Black, Indigenous, other women of color, LGBTQ+ people, and women in poverty. We developed five overall goals for future action based on these results. These goals prioritize work on the areas of highest need. In many cases, that led us to adopting gender neutral goals – because that seemed like the best way to gain the best outcomes for those with the greatest need. It turns out that this approach will further the interests of more than just any single subpopulation of Washington residents – it should benefit us all.

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Washington State Supreme Court Gender and Justice Commission


gender, race, justice, discrimination, access to courts, civil justice, criminal justice, exploitation


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Courts | Criminal Law | Juvenile Law | Law and Gender | Law and Race


In addition to being a co-chair of the Gender Justice Study, Professor Dana Raigrodski co-authored Chapter 10 of the study which relates to Commercial Sex and Exploitation.

2021: How Gender and Race Affect Justice Now - Final Report