Women Striving for Parity in Judiciary

Advances in making Tennessee’s judiciary more diverse are evident: women now make up the majority of justices on the Tennessee Supreme Court; Deborah Stevens was recently appointed to serve as a Knox County Circuit Court judge; and Pam Reeves, when confirmed by the Senate, will become the first woman to serve as a federal judge in East Tennessee. However, progress has been slow Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee points out to Knoxnews: “We are not where we should be yet in terms of judicial diversity.” According to a report by the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society at the University of Albany, State University of New York, Tennessee lags behind the national (27.1 percent) and Southeastern average (25.6 percent) with just 18.4 percent of women judges. Lee, other seasoned women attorneys and organizations such as the state and East Tennessee chapters of the Lawyers Association for Women are working to change that by addressing some of the dynamics cited for low advancement among women within the state’s judicial system.