Thursday 14 June 2012 by John Hyde and Jonathan Rayner
Women made up around half the judicial appointments during a six-month period, despite forming as little as a fifth of the candidate pool. The sixth set of official statistics published today by the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) shows women starting to outperform men.
Based on 13 selection exercises completed between October 2011 and March 2012, the JAC found women made up 43% of district judge selections, despite making up just 19% of the eligible pool.
The majority of salaried selected social entitlement judges, fee-paid social entitlement judges and fee-paid immigration and asylum judges were women, even though the majority of applications came from men.
The JAC heralded the figures as evidence that judicial appointments are becoming more diverse and that a commitment to more part-time working at senior levels is helping to attract a greater range of candidates.
Christopher Stephens, chairman of the JAC, said: 'In our merit-based selections women continue to perform well and are being selected in greater proportions than men in some exercises.
'Almost 1,000 women have now been selected by the JAC. Their strong performance in competitions for entry and middle level roles bodes well for the future if they choose to seek more senior positions.'
The JAC stated that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) selections were consistently above or in line with their levels in a range of fields.
Where BAME candidates fared less well, internal analysis found that self-assessment of judicial skills and references lacked supporting evidence. Some applicants seeking a salaried role did not have the fee-paid judicial experience the Lord Chancellor stipulated.
The commission found that 73% of district judge selections were from solicitors.
Stephens added: 'Solicitors have not always seen the full range of judicial roles as an area of interest. This is starting to change and I am looking forward to working with the Law Society's new Solicitor Judges Division.'
Justice minister Lord McNally welcomed the statistics but said there remained work to do if judicial appointments were to become more reflective of society as a whole.
'I hope that this welcome trend encourages more women and BME members of the legal professions to consider the judiciary as a realistic career ambition.'
Only 13 selection exercises were picked for analysis as they had to be large enough to be reported individually without risk of identifying candidates.