Gender Bias Study from Washington State

Written by National Association of Women Judges|September 28, 2021|News

NAWJ members and Co-Chairs of the Washington State Gender & Justice Commission Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud and Judge Marilyn Paja would like to share a ground-breaking  Gender Bias Study that has just been published here in Washington State by our Supreme Court Gender & Justice Commission (GJC): 2021: How Gender and Race Affect Justice Now.  The Study was first announced at the 2016 NAWJ Annual Conference in Seattle, and after 2 years of funding and organizational work, and 3 years of research, study and writing, we want to share it widely with our NAWJ colleagues.  We think you will find much of interest.  Here is the link to the Report on the Washington State Courts website:

This report expands on another groundbreaking Washington state study - Washington’s 1989 report, Gender & Justice in the Courts. That 1989 report prompted the Supreme Court to establish the GJC and led to numerous improvements over three decades. Both studies have been among the first of their kind in the nation.

The new study, titled “2021: How Gender and Race Affect Justice Now,” was funded with a grant from the State Justice Institute and matching funds from the Administrative Office of the Courts and Gender and Justice Commission. 

Some 2021 findings about our Washington state courts include:

  • The costs of accessing our courts such as user fees, childcare, and lawyers create barriers that fall more heavily on single mothers; on Black, Indigenous and women of color; and on people with disabilities.
  • Lack of affordable childcare limits the ability of low-income women to get to court, showing the need for flexible court hours and remote access to courts.
  • Domestic violence and sexual assault overwhelmingly affect women and LGBTQ+ persons, who face barriers to reporting this violence. The large number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and people remain a key concern.
  • The state law requiring mandatory arrests in domestic violence situations may have unintended adverse effects on women, people of color, immigrants, those living in poverty, and LGBTQ+ people.
  • The justice system response to commercial sexual exploitation has greatly improved, but still treats many in the sex industry, including exploited populations, as criminals.
  • One pilot project found that in our own state, Black, Indigenous and other women of color are convicted and sentenced at much higher rates than white women.
  • Women continue to face bias and pay disparities in the legal profession; women and men of color are still underrepresented in judicial and law firm leadership positions.

Thank you for the opportunity to share this important research project with our NAWJ colleagues.  Please share this Report widely with those you think might be interested. 

Comments may be provided to Senior Court Program Analyst, Ms. Kelley Amburgey-Richardson at Kelley.Amburgey-Richardson at

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