In our review of two recent decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada, one feature that UKSC Blog noted was that not only is the Chief Justice of Canada (who gave the leading judgments on both cases) a woman but four out of the nine Justices on the Court are female as well.  That puts Canada at the top of the list of leading Supreme Courts round the world in terms of gender equality.  Sadly, the United Kingdom, with currently just one woman on its Supreme Court, languishes at the bottom. 

This is a list of the percentage of women on a number of leading Supreme Courts around the world:

Canada Four of nine (inc Chief Justice) 44%
Australia Three of seven 43%
United States Two of nine 22%
New Zealand One of five (Chief Justice) 20%
Germany (Constitutional Court) Three of sixteen 19%
China Two of thirteen 15%
United Kingdom One of eleven 9%

The chronic underrepresentation of women in the United Kingdom judiciary is, of course, notorious.  In April 2009, Jack Straw set up an “Advisory Panel on Judicial Diversity”, Chaired by Baroness Neuberger, which has yet to report.  The Judicial Appointments Commission and the Judiciary have recently organised conferences on judicial diversity.

Nevertheless, progress has been painfully slow.   The appointment of the twelfth Justice is expected imminently.  Few expect a woman to be appointed.  This would be a missed opportunity to improve the position.