Sex Discrimination Cases Are More Likely to Settle Under Female Judges, Study Finds

A recent study (summary here, abstract here) indicates that plaintiffs bringing sex discrimination cases fare better when a female judge is assigned to the case.

The summary lists the following “key findings”:

  • Whenever a female judge is assigned to the case, plaintiffs are 6.7 percentage points more likely to settle and 7.1 percentage points more likely to be awarded a judgement.
  • Having a male judge reduces the likelihood that a female plaintiff will receive financial compensation. Female plaintiffs are 5 to 7 percent more likely to win compensation when a female judge is assigned to the case. There is little evidence, though, that compensation amounts differ according to a judge’s sex.
  • Female judges are 15 percentage points less likely to grant motions filed by the defendant.
  • “Evidence suggests that female judges are better able to perceive less egregious forms of sex discrimination … While one would expect that male and female judges would reach the same conclusions in clear-cut cases, it could be that the more marginal cases account for the overall difference in settlement and plaintiff compensation rates.”
  • If the percentage of women serving as federal circuit court judges increased from the current level of about 30 percent to 50 percent, an estimated 1.5 percent more workplace sex discrimination lawsuits would be settled in favor of the alleged victim.

Per the abstract, the study concludes “that female plaintiffs filing workplace sex discrimination claims are substantially more likely to settle and win compensation whenever a female judge is assigned to the case.”