Framing Gender: Federal Appellate Judges' Choices About Gender-Neutral Language

University of San Francisco Law Review, Vol. 43, p. 473, Winter 2009

35 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2008 Last revised: 2 Mar 2010

Judith D. Fischer

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

Date Written: July 8, 2008

Abstract

Through empirical research, this article examines whether judges on the United States courts of appeals are framing their opinions in gender-neutral language. Drawing on multidisciplinary sources, including the work of language scholars, psychologists, framing theorists, and legal professionals, the article explains why gender-neutral language is important and discusses ways of constructing it. The article then presents the results of a study of recent court opinions, compares data from the years 1965 and 2006, and discusses implications of the data. It concludes that courts have made significant progress toward gender neutrality, but it also identifies a need for further improvement, which can be accomplished through shifting both mental and verbal frames toward greater inclusiveness.

Keywords: women, men, male, female, judges, language, gender-neutral, inclusive, sexist, gender-biased, gender-inclusive, framing theory, empirical, feminist

Suggested Citation

Fischer, Judith D., Framing Gender: Federal Appellate Judges' Choices About Gender-Neutral Language (July 8, 2008). University of San Francisco Law Review, Vol. 43, p. 473, Winter 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1156985

Judith D. Fischer (Contact Author)

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States

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