Shattering the Glass Ceiling in International Adjudication

81 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2014 Last revised: 18 Apr 2016

See all articles by Nienke Grossman

Nienke Grossman

University of Baltimore - School of Law

Date Written: September 7, 2015


This Article shows that women are found in dramatically low numbers on the benches of the majority of the world’s most important international courts, analyzes the causes of this phenomenon and proposes and evaluates solutions. It establishes that the number of women in the pool of potential judges does not appear to dictate how many women become international judges. It shows, too, that when selection procedures are closed and opaque, and there is no quota or aspirational target for a sex-balanced bench, women obtain international judgeships in disproportionately low numbers. On the other hand, when a quota or aspirational target exists, benches are more balanced. Finally, the Article suggests and evaluates concrete reforms to selection procedures on international courts to remedy this problem, including greater transparency and openness in selection procedures, aspirational targets for the participation of women on the bench and quotas. It is the first article to explore the relationship between selection procedures and sex representativeness outcomes on international courts.

Keywords: women judges, international courts, selection procedures, international

Suggested Citation

Grossman, Nienke, Shattering the Glass Ceiling in International Adjudication (September 7, 2015). Virginia Journal of International Law Vol. 56.2 2016, Forthcoming, University of Baltimore School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-04, Available at SSRN: or

Nienke Grossman (Contact Author)

University of Baltimore - School of Law ( email )

1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, 21218
United States

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