Much has been made of the difference in decision making between male and female judges. For example the 8-1 decision in Radmacher, in which Lady Hale gave the dissenting judgment, suggests that gender may have a substantial influence on that way in which judges view a legal problem, particularly if that problem involves gender discrimination. A paper produced at Harvard University has expanded on the issue by examining the influence that daughters may have on judges’ decision making.

The paper looks at decisions of the US Court of Appeals and suggests that:

judges with daughters consistently vote in a more liberal fashion on gender issues than judges without daughters. This effect is particularly strong among Republican appointed judges and is robust and persists even once we control for a wide variety of factors.

In the States there has always been more emphasis on the personality of judges and their political leanings. In contrast judges here are always keen to emphasise the objective nature of their decisions, and generally reluctant to admit overtly personal views on a topic. Whilst it is unhelpful to view judicial decisions purely through a gender paradigm, as this can led to unhelpful generalizations and a lack of appreciation for some of the subtleties of judicial decisions, the paper does seem to raise interesting questions as to how ‘personal experiences — as distinct from partisanship — may influence how elite actors make decisions, but only in the context of substantively salient issues.’